When Plan A went poof, the Lakers quickly moved on to Plan B.
And by Plan B, we mean kicking the can down the road a couple of years.
It’s all about the summer of 2016 now, folks.
Carmelo Anthony might not be coming, but hey, in two summers Kevin Durant will be a free agent and the Lakers should have plenty of money to throw at him.
Wait, where did we hear that before?
That’s right, last summer.
And the summer before that.
First Dwight Howard was going to lure Anthony or LeBron James to Los Angeles.
Then it was going be Anthony and James joining forces with the Lakers once Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s contracts came off the books this summer.
And the seamless transition to another era of dominance had commenced.
It made for fantastic sports talk radio.
But in reality, it was a pipe dream.
No matter what we tried to convince ourselves.
Because every time we closed our eyes to dream, we ignored one very disturbing truth.
Nobody wants to play for the Lakers anymore – at least not the high-end superstars capable of adding hardware to the trophy case.
And who can blame them, considering the state of the Lakers?
The roster was aging, or in this summer’s case depleted.
The money was good, but there were better contract offers elsewhere. Some by teams in much better position to contend.
The Lakers could offer history and a chance to play with Bryant the next two years.
But little else.
If you want to land a difference maker, you better step up to them with a lot more than past glory.
No wonder superstars are just saying no.
Maybe it’s just a temporary thing.
But right now, it’s becoming a worrisome trend.
First Howard turned his back on the Lakers, now Anthony resists their overtures.
And James barely gave them the time of day.
The Lakers used to be a glamorous destination for star players, offering an oasis of beautiful weather, championship pedigree and a grand stage to perform on.
Everyone, it seemed, wanted to come here.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once forced a trade to Los Angeles.
Shaquille O’Neal took less money to leave Orlando to play for the Lakers.
From Wilt Chamberlain to Bryant, superstar players have historically finagled their way to the Purple and Gold and the chance to hang championship banners.
Now, they are ignoring them like a beautiful girl does the random creepy dude approaching them at the club.
And it’s forced the Lakers to set their sights much, much lower.
Like trading for Jeremy Lin, as they quickly did when reports surfaced Anthony was eliminating them from consideration.
And resigning Jordan Hill and Nick Young, as they did later in the day.
Then opening contract discussions with promising young forward Kent Bazemore, who they traded for last season.
Nothing against Young or anyone else, but that’s a huge letdown after a week’s worth of dreaming about Anthony and Bryant joining forces at Staples Center.
Say what you will about the 30-year Anthony and the questionable impact he would have made with the Lakers.
He’s a ball hog. He doesn’t play defense. He’s advanced passed the second round of the playoffs only one time over his 12-year career.
And he guaranteed the Lakers nothing more than a significant bump in their rebuilding hopes.
Still, this loss stings.
It tells us star players no longer look longingly at the Lakers.
And that is a huge problem.
As an added ripple effect, not landing Anthony means the end of Pau Gasol’s stay in Los Angeles.
The Big Spaniard turned down a two-year, $20-million dollar offer from the Lakers, and who can blame him?
Why would he want to stay when championship caliber teams like Oklahoma City and San Antonio and Chicago offer so much more at the moment?
The losses just keep piling up.
And the Lakers continue to teeter.
Anthony may not have represented an immediate turnaround – at least not a championship level revival – but reeling him in would have been a decisive win for the brand while restoring some faith in the Lakers front office.
Since the passing of long-time Lakers owner Jerry Buss, the disastrous coaching hires of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni and the failed Howard experiment, trust has waned in the leadership of team president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Prying Anthony away from Jackson and the Knicks – for less money mind you – and re-setting the Lakers future by putting another big-time superstar alongside Bryant, would have earned Buss and Kupchak some respect.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
So now the Lakers turn to Plan B, which essentially means gathering up assets and creating enough salary cap space to make a serious run at what’s shaping up as a historic free agent class in 2016.
But then, we heard the same thing about the summer of 2014.
Only Anthony said no and James barely paid attention to them.
But hey, it will be different two years from now right?