For the first four days of free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers begged LaMarcus Aldridge to join their youth project, twice. The strategy failed and the front office appeared out-of-touch and clueless to the reality of the free agency landscape. While the Lakers were on hands and knees begging an uninterested party, highly rated free agents around the league signed with teams from Boston to Portland and everywhere in between.
Once Aldridge finally decided that he would marry the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers did not wallow in a dark room and cry tears of self-pity. No, the Lakers immediately rebounded with vigor and refreshed freedom. Aldridge made his announcement on the morning of July 4. By the afternoon, the Lakers' first move of the offseason leaked, and it made all too much sense.
After drafting guard D'Angelo Russell with the no. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Lakers desperately needed a big man. On Saturday afternoon, the Lakers managed to advance in discussions with the Indiana Pacers for a trade that would land 7-foot 2-inch former All-Star Roy Hibbert. Per reports, the deal had advanced to such an advanced stage that the Pacers notified Hibbert of his departure to LA. Hibbert may be a gamble of sorts, but considering he is entering the final year of his contract, the Lakers have little to lose. If he does not pan out, the Lakers can move on without any lingering financial limitations. At the least, Hibbert's addition promises to improve the Lakers' defense under the basket and rebounding on the defensive glass--two areas LA desperately needed to address.
A day after signing Hibbert, the Lakers moved to secure the services of Lou Williams, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award in the most recent season. As a scoring guard off the bench with Toronto, Williams provides the Lakers a level of consistency that they did not get with Nick Young. With the arrival of Williams on a three-year $21 million deal, Young's departure via trade becomes far more likely. Young may yet be involved in the trade with Indiana once details emerge after July 9. Time will tell whether Young stays in LA, but Williams' arrival appears to signal the end to the "Swaggy P" era in Los Angeles.
Later in the same day, the Lakers filled yet another need. Forward Brandon Bass reportedly agreed to sign with the Lakers, though the terms were still being worked out. The 30-year-old power forward will arrive in Los Angeles following four years with the Boston Celtics. Bass appeared in all 82 games in each of the last two seasons with the Celtics, averaging 10.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over that stretch. Entering his 11th season in the NBA, Bass is a veteran forward that can serve as a starter if the Lakers think Julius Randle needs to be eased into playing time, or Bass can be a reliable bench player to back up the Lakers' top pick of the 2014 draft.
With the additions of Williams, Bass and Hibbert, the Lakers added three players that promise to dramatically improve the team following the two worst seasons in franchise history. Likely, the Lakers still have a couple cards up their sleeves, but even if the LA gets up from the table at this stage, the Lakers have built a roster that will be competitive and offer a legitimate chance at making the playoffs.
It took about 25 hours from the original leak of Hibbert's trade to news of Bass agreeing to sign with LA. Rome was not been built in a day, which is why the Lakers took an extra hour to turn rubble into a respectable product.