The L.A. Lakers have not enjoyed the past few summers; free agency has not been kind to them in the least.
The Purple and Gold have consistently struck out on their top targets and through a series of stop-gap decisions, the Lakers plummeted to a record of 17-65 last season, which was a franchise low.
With the arrival of Luke Walton as the new head coach and yet another intriguing lottery pick in the form of Brandon Ingram, the Lakers are bound to improve to a degree this year.
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But they couldn't help but believe they had a shot at the top targets again this summer. When both Kevin Durant and Hassan Whiteside refused to even have a meeting with them, that should have been a massive wake-up call.
However, a recent report indicates that is not the case.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard told MSG recently that the Lakers firmly believe they can lure Russell Westbrook back to southern California as a free agent in the summer of 2017.
“The Lakers think they can sign him,” Broussard said. “And I was talking to some executives yesterday about possible trades they might do or offer. And I was told they think they can sign him as a free agent, so why should they give up anything?”
In a summer where franchises like the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls and even the Golden State Warriors have done some major reshuffling in order to stay competitive, the Lakers have concentrated on keeping their young core.
Sure, D'Angleo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr, Ivica Zubac and Ingram all have varying degrees of star potential, but those starlets may go to waste without the proper supporting cast.
The likes of Jose Calderon, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov have arrived in L.A. this summer to add a bit of weight to their roster, with the latter two on inflated, four-year deals.
Although those kind of players won't attract Westbrook on their own or secure the eighth seed next season, maybe the allure of coming home to a historic franchise will tempt the reigning All-Star MVP to be the first marquee free agent in years to break the barren cycle.
Now that Kevin Durant has departed, it looks more likely than ever.