Lakers Shift To Backup Plan After Being Spurned By Kawhi Leonard
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka "likely salvaged the best offseason he could" once Kawhi Leonard decided to sign with the Clippers, but it is "far from a finished product," according to Bill Oram of THE ATHLETIC. Pelinka after being spurned by Leonard "quickly went to work locking up commitments" from Gs Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo, as well as Cs JaVale McGee and DeMarcus Cousins. But anything was going to "feel like a letdown if the Lakers missed on Leonard." The Lakers "knew the game they were playing and they knew that there was a risk they wouldn't land Leonard." They "bet on themselves" and "lost" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/6). Oram in a separate piece wrote of all the scenarios that "seemed possible when free agency officially began," this was "undoubtedly the worst for the Lakers" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/5).
TRUE HOOPS: In L.A., Tania Ganguli wrote where in years past the Lakers had "tried to woo free agents with the prospect of stardom and off-court fame, the Lakers knew that wouldn't work" with Leonard. They "stuck to basketball" during their two-hour meeting with him. Meanwhile, the Lakers "couldn't have traded for" Paul George even if they wanted to, as they had "emptied their cupboard" in trading for Anthony Davis (LATIMES.com, 7/6). YAHOO SPORTS' Vincent Goodwill wrote the Lakers' front-office work is "even more critical this year than last, when anyone with eyes knew it was a matter of time before the Lakers were in hot pursuit of Davis" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/6). In L.A., Bill Plaschke wondered, "How on earth did the Lakers blow this?" The Lakers lost to an owner in Steve Ballmer who was "more determined, a front office that was better prepared, a coaching staff with more credibility, and a culture that was all basketball" (L.A. TIMES, 7/7).