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Volume 26 No. 65
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Lakers Shift To Backup Plan After Being Spurned By Kawhi Leonard

The Lakers quickly moved to sign role players like DeMarcus Cousins after losing out on Leonard
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

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).