The Lakers history books are filled with memorable summers. The summer of ’96, when the Lakers paired Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The summer of 2003, when Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the purple and gold. The summer of 2012 when the Lakers, out of no where, paired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard with Bryant and Pau Gasol.
As I type, Eric Bledsoe is still without a contract, with just a qualifying offer extended. While he was injured for part of last season, Bledsoe is still one of the best young players in the league and a great athlete.
However, whether it be his own demands or his agent’s, his demand for near-max money has left him without a contract offer from any team and the Suns and him miles apart in negotiations.
And he isn’t even the first restricted free agent to run into a negotiation roadblock. Greg Monroe and the Detroit Pistons had similar road blocks, with their dispute resulting in Monroe signing the Pistons’ offer sheet and set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Which leaves Lakers fans asking the question: why?
Instead of building through young talent like most teams, the Lakers continue to swing for the fences. With the cap space to bring in impact players this summer, we were left with Nick Young, $9 million on Jordan Hill, and Jeremy Lin, totaling over $28 million in salary.
Considering the following: Lance Stephenson signed for $9 million, Monroe signed his qualifying offer at just over $10 million, and Bledsoe is seeking around $15 million a year. At worst, the Lakers could have signed at least two of these players, at best they could have worked out all signing the trio. Regardless, it would have been a better than the current Lakers summer.
A lineup centered around Monroe-Bledsoe-Bryant-Julius Randle would have been miles and miles better than the one they’ll trot out on opening night this season. Instead, we’re left wondering why.