The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in more than their fair share of headlines heading into what they surely hope will be a transformative summer after two seasons spent in the NBA's basement.
Drafting D'Angelo Russell put a jolt into the backcourt, although it leaves them without a surefire star in the frontcourt to help usher in a new era for the purple and gold.
The search for a big man will likely be the Lakers' saga of the summer. There is plenty of chatter on that front, so let's take a look at the latest talk in this quest to transform the team.
Wouldn't it be swell to just snag the best center already playing in the Staples Center and simply have him swap laundry?
DeAndre Jordan is coming off a career year with the Los Angeles Clippers, but he may be set to move on from the team after seven seasons of steady improvement. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, the Lakers are among the teams he's willing to sit down with this summer:
The 26-year-old free agent center who spent his first seven seasons with the Clippers is clearly giving serious thought to changing jerseys, as three people with knowledge of his situation said he is expected to meet with at least four teams — the Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks — in the first few days of free agency. The meetings are expected to take place in the Los Angeles office where Jordan's representatives, Dan Fegan and Happy Walters of Relativity Sports, are based. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process.
Convincing Jordan to don the purple and gold will likely be a difficult task for Los Angeles. Jordan is coming off a year in which he set career highs in field-goal percentage and points and rebounds per game.
|DeAndre Jordan 2014-15 Stats|
He's also been quite durable for a center, playing in all 82 games in each of the past three seasons.
Jordan already has an established relationship with the Clippers, who have groomed him into the star big man that he is today. If he's going to stay in L.A., one would think it makes sense to stick with the team with a proven, capable roster.
Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling notes that the likely front-runners are the Clips and Dallas Mavericks. Jordan was born in Houston and played his college ball at Texas A&M. He would fit in quite well on their talented roster, as a defensive disruptor in the mold of Tyson Chandler and the main finisher of highlight-reel alley-oops in coach Rick Carlisle's free-flowing offensive system.
ESPN's Arash Markazi also points out Jordan will likely be looking for max money this summer:
Arash Markazi @ArashMarkazi
Will the Clippers offer DeAndre Jordan a max contract? Doc: "Yeah, I think I can say that."2015-5-18 18:49:59
The Lakers would presumably sell Jordan on the history of the team, with special emphasis on the long lineage of greater centers who have played there, and the fact that he would immediately become the focal point of the frontcourt. Other than that, the Lakers don't appear to have much to offer that might trump other teams' sales pitches. It's probably a long shot, but it's one worth keeping an eye on.
According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, the Lakers are looking to converse with LaMarcus Aldridge on a big-money deal:
All their financial eggs now go into the big-man basket. They want to talk to LaMarcus Aldridge, he wants to listen, and if all goes well for both sides, the four-time All-Star signs a four-year, $80 million deal to be the Lakers' power forward.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News notes formidable competition for his signature may come in the form of the San Antonio Spurs:
Jeff McDonald @JMcDonald_SAEN
Spurs seem bent on making a run at a big-time FA, most likely LaMarcus Aldridge. Will have to trade someone to make room, possibly Splitter.2015-6-28 21:40:07
Like Jordan, Aldridge has spent his entire career with one team. He's been a force in nine seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, and last year his soap-bubble mid-range shots lifted him to an excellent 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. He's not the defensive game-changer that Jordan is—and the Lakers sorely need defense—but he's an offensive force to be reckoned with.
One big-name big man whom the Lakers don't appear capable of snagging anytime soon is Marc Gasol, who Bresnahan notes isn't keen on the franchise after what transpired between them and his older brother, Pau:
Marc Gasol has no interest in the Lakers because of the uneasy last few years his brother spent with them, according to numerous people familiar with the situation.
The elder Gasol took less money to sign with the Chicago Bulls this past summer and flourished, averaging 18.9 points and 11.8 rebounds. Those numbers were especially impressive considering his ill fit in former Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's system.
The Lakers actually drafted Marc Gasol but traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies to snag his older brother. While it would make an interesting full circle for his career, it appears whatever bridge that might have brought him back to Tinseltown has crumbled.
The Lakers have to be able to convince future big men that they can work them into coach Byron Scott's system and are indeed capable of turning things around in a loaded Western Conference. Otherwise, it could be a disappointing summer for Los Angeles, where their cap money is spent on role players and not transformative ones.