LOS ANGELES -- Even though the Los Angeles Lakers are in rebuilding mode and have missed on their top free-agent targets in each of the past three offseasons, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers still believes the Lakers are a top destination for free agents.
"I think they're always going to be an option," Rivers said Friday before his team faced the Lakers at Staples Center. "I think the two teams in L.A. will always be an option for everyone else. You see the traffic every day, right? People like living here. Really. Despite the taxes, they still like living here. It tells you something, and the Lakers have a ton of money. So I think they're a free-agent destination for a lot of people."
The Lakers can open up as much as $59 million to spend on free agency -- contingent upon factors such as Kobe Bryant's retirement or the renouncement of his Bird rights; the team losing their first-rounder; and Brandon Bass opting out. That amount is rivaled only by the Philadelphia 76ers.
That puts the Lakers in a position to possibly add two max contracts next summer, when the likes of Kevin Durant, Mike Conley and Al Horford (and, for what it's worth, LeBron James and Dwight Howard) become unrestricted free agents.
The Lakers recruited center DeAndre Jordan in free agency over the summer, but in what has become a recurring theme for the NBA's glamour franchise, they were unable to lure him in.
When asked about the fact that the Lakers have swung and missed on free agents in three straight offseasons, Rivers pointed out, "First of all, a lot of guys don't leave at the end of the day. Not as many as you'd think would leave. A lot of them don't. Some change their mind, which is terrific. It's tough. It's tough getting guys. But they'll end up doing it right, eventually. They just have too much money. And they're in LA."
Lakers coach Byron Scott recalled how his team pitched Jordan, who, as Rivers alluded, committed to the Dallas Mavericks before changing his mind to stay with the Clippers.
"We just talked to him about what this organization has achieved, and it's all about championships here," Scott said, "and basically it's a fresh start for him to kind of start over with some young talent, kind of help those guys develop."
Scott added that the Lakers tried to sell Jordan on the idea they could acquire a couple of additional pieces and, soon, "We would be a team that can definitely vie for a championship."
Instead, Jordan signed a four-year deal worth $88 million to remain with the Clippers.