There’s a theory that LaMarcus Aldridge always knew what team he would choose this summer. He took the meetings, had a few nice steak dinners, but so long as the Spurs could work the cap situation out, he was coming to San Antonio.
True or not, those other meetings became big stories — particularly the Lakers meeting, which did not go well at all. The Lakers pitch was reportedly heavy on selling Los Angeles as a marketing and lifestyle destination — but Aldridge already has a home in the area (Orange County), they needed to sell him on basketball but didn’t. The Lakers went from being one of the co-favorites to land him to being voted off the island. The Lakers got a second meeting, but it didn’t change things.
Then Aldridge didn’t even meet with the Knicks.
Both of those were huge stories, but Aldridge told Basketball Insiders it got blown out of proportion.
“With the Lakers, it wasn’t anything crazy,” Aldridge said. “It was just the [first] meeting didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, so I did another one. People blew it out of proportion about things happening in the meeting. That wasn’t correct. It just didn’t go as good as I wanted it to so I had one more….
“About the New York Knicks, they told me that they wanted me to play strictly
,” Aldridge said. “So they didn’t want to meet with me. People was saying it was me, but it was both parties agreeing that we shouldn’t meet.”
Why the second meeting with the Lakers? Because Aldridge’s agent Arn Tellem has an excellent relationship with GM Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers, he’s has done a lot of business with them and would like to do more in the future, and how that story broke nationally was an embarrassment to the Lakers. Online and on sports talk radio, discussion of what the Lakers were doing wrong in their pitch meetings became a thing. Tellem was looking for a way for the organization to save face.
As for the Lakers pitch being light on basketball, what could they sell him right now? They had won 21 games the past season, and their hope for the future on the court — D’Angello Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — were years away from helping the team contend for a title. Kobe Bryant is a legend but is entering likely his final season. The rest of the cupboard was pretty bare. Even with Aldridge (and another max free agent to come in the next couple years) this team was years away. Aldridge is 30 years old, he can’t wait around for that to come together. The on-the-court pitch was doomed before it started.
Or, maybe I’m just blowing it all out of proportion like Aldridge said.