*** FREE AGENCY COVERAGE JULY 3 ON NBA TV: Free Agent Fever: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET ***
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Lakers get second meeting with Aldridge; Heat on tap, too — The old saying goes that everyone deserves a second chance. Apparently that’s true in NBA free agency as the Los Angeles Lakers got another shot at wooing LaMarcus Aldridge after their first attempt was more or less poorly received by free agency’s No. 1 target. Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times have more on the second Aldridge-Lakers meeting, which wasn’t too impressive to Aldridge either:
The Lakers got a do-over with LaMarcus Aldridge, an attempt to amend their pitch to the free-agent power forward Thursday after their initial Tuesday night presentation flopped.
The effort was improved, but Aldridge apparently wasn’t “wooed by it,” according to a person familiar with the meeting.
Figuring they had nothing to lose, the Lakers requested a second meeting and were granted it, sitting down in a much less crowded room with Aldridge and fully aware he thought their initial message was too heavy on branding opportunities in Los Angeles and too light on actual basketball talk.
Aldridge was particularly down on the first presentation’s lack of analytics and on-court projections, something General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Coach Byron Scott hoped to change as the Lakers’ only representatives Thursday.
It was unclear what Aldridge immediately thought of the redo, or “follow-up” as the team tried to phrase it, but the Lakers were believed to have accented his importance in the franchise’s attempted turnaround after a 21-61 season. Another glaring issue that needed revisiting — their lack of an effective center, an increasingly important concept for a four-time All-Star who preferred playing only power forward.
The Lakers currently have two big men with NBA experience — center Robert Sacre and power forward Tarik Black. They have failed to find any others.
The Lakers’ meeting with free-agent center DeAndre Jordan on Wednesday didn’t come close to making a dent in his plan to go to Dallas or stay with the Clippers.
Before free agency began, the Lakers were the co-favorites with San Antonio to pry Aldridge from Portland, but that was scuttled after their failed first crack at him.
ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne also confirms the Aldridge meeting with the Lakers and has info on his planned meeting with the Heat, too:
One source with knowledge of both meetings said it took more than an hour before the Lakers laid out a vision for rebuilding their roster and how Aldridge fit into that in the first meeting. The presentation also was wholly lacking in analytics, which came across even worse after the analytics-minded Houston Rockets followed them into the room Tuesday night.
After getting feedback on Aldridge’s reaction to their presentation, the Lakers requested and were granted a second meeting Thursday night. One source said they made a point of apologizing to the 29-year-old Aldridge for not giving a more well-rounded presentation and thanking him for giving them a second chance. In addition to general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Byron Scott, they brought assistant coach Mark Madsen to the presentation. Madsen is the liaison between the coaching staff and the franchise’s analytics staff.
After meeting with the Lakers, Aldridge left for a dinner meeting with Miami Heat president Pat Riley, a source told ESPN’s Marc Stein. The Heat’s foray into the Aldridge sweepstakes comes hours after the team agreed with Dwyane Wade on a one-year, $20 million contract. The Heat would have to shed significant contracts and players to clear enough room to make a maximum contract offer to Aldridge, or work with the Portland Trail Blazers on a sign-and-trade likely involving Chris Bosh.
One team apparently out of the Aldridge sweepstakes is the New York Knicks, as the veteran forward canceled his planned meeting with the team, according to reports.