Once upon a time, when Lakers ownership and front office were dynamic and ultra-ambitious, the Lakers would have had a chance to top Miami's memorable free-agent coup in the summer of 2010.
Imagine LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony joining Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles.
With James and Anthony both opting to become free agents, as expected, it's an avenue former Lakers architect Jerry West would have pursued and likely persuaded his boss, Dr. Jerry Buss, to authorize.
Dr. Buss died last year, 21 months after West moved up the coast to become a member of the Warriors brain trust. The Lakers over the past two years have spiraled downward, while the Warriors have trended upward.
West spent two decades finding ways to keep the Lakers among the league's elite. His instincts were not impeccable. Along with the appeal of Dr. Buss, though, The Logo's results were extraordinary. The West-Buss combo landed Magic Johnson and James Worthy. They later drafted Vlade Divac, and later traded him to get Kobe Bryant. The West-Buss combo brought Shaquille O'Neal to L.A.
West and Buss would have presented every asset – the championship history, the status, the marketing possibilities, the gorgeous weather, the post-career opportunities – in an effort to coax LeBron and 'Melo to L.A. Might've worked.
The Lakers have positioned themselves financially to sign just about anybody they want, preferably someone who could grab the baton from Kobe. They have money to spend. But they no longer are a truly attractive destination, as they once were.
Jim Buss is no Jerry Buss, and Mitch Kupchak is no Jerry West.
The Lakers and some of their fans haven't quite accepted that those golden days are over. One of the reasons they are the only team still without a coach reportedly is to bend the ears of James and Anthony and get their input.
There are several reasons James and Anthony are unlikely to seriously entertain going to L.A., but one is the absence of West in the Lakers front office. They're not coming to the Warriors, either, but they might consider it if the money were there.
The Lakers have the money. They don't have much else these days. They're the second-best team in Los Angeles, and it's not close.
That the Warriors – with or without Kevin Love – have the brighter future, likely would not be true if West, who'll always bleed some Lakers blood, were still running things in L.A.