While the wooing won’t officially begin until midnight eastern time tonight, that doesn’t mean things aren’t already taking shape in free agency. Teams are making plans to meet with free agents and there are already reports of reciprocated interest among those targets to their linked teams.
The Lakers? Well, things aren’t quite shaping up as I’m guessing many would have hoped. We have already profiled potential targets a C and at SF the Lakers could use, but it seems some of those players have other plans in mind. Let’s get to the latest buzz:
- It is being reported the Lakers will not get a meeting with Heat big man Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside, who is reportedly wanting to make a decision quickly in free agency, is focusing on either going to the Mavs or returning to the Heat.
- It is being reported the Lakers will get a “phone meeting” with Hornets SF Nicolas Batum, but not an in-person meeting at this time. Batum will meet with the incumbent Hornets and go to Dallas to meet with the Mavs, but will only take calls with the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks, and Wizards.
- The Lakers reportedly have interest in Mavs SF Chandler Parsons, but there are not yet reports of a meeting between him and the team. It has been said the Mavericks would like Parsons back, but not at the max. The Grizzlies also have interest.
- DeMar DeRozan is holding meetings in Los Angeles, but it’s being reported the Raptors hope to move quickly to re-sign the SG. If that does not happen, the Lakers could get a meeting with him.
So, not a lot of firm plans for the Lakers as of now. That does not mean things will stay that way, but the optics right now are not good. Especially coming on the heels of Kevin Durant not taking a meeting with the Lakers at all.
There has generally been a looseness in how “tampering” is interpreted when it comes to scheduling meetings as player representatives and teams make contact to schedule times to meet. As we have seen, teams already have these sit-downs on the books — Kevin Durant’s list of meetings (down to the day), have been known since at least Wednesday. I don’t think the league frowns on the making of these logistics.
One has to wonder if the Lakers are putting out these same feelers to free agents to get meetings scheduled or if they are waiting. If it’s the latter, that is, at least so far, not working in their favor. Last year there were leaks of the Lakers getting a meeting with Greg Monroe before free agency officially began, so it would not be out of character for them to reach out behind the scenes before the clock struck 12am.
(Update: Apparently, maybe the league isn’t so “loose” on whether the contact between teams and player reps to set up the logistics of these meetings is okay. Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the NBA has been calling GM’s asking questions about meetings already set for Friday when the rules state there should be no contact before midnight. Maybe the Lakers are just following the rules? Hmmm.)
We will see how this plays out and whether things change in the coming 12-24 hours. But, as it stands now, it’s hard not to look at the way top FA’s are leaning and not be at least a little discouraged. Especially with the way the front office has portrayed their financial flexibility and ability to chase multiple high salaried players as a key element in their summer success.