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Brian Windhorst explains why the Lakers are struggling to land top-tier free agents.
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Colin Cowherd gives his takes on the Lakers' use of Kobe Bryant to attract free agents.
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The Milwaukee Bucks got bigger Thursday, agreeing to terms with free-agent center Greg Monroe, agent David Falk said.

Monroe spurned the New York Knicks among other teams by agreeing to terms with the Bucks on a three-year maximum deal worth approximately $50 million with a player option for the final year, sources told ESPN.

Yahoo! Sports reported the agreement earlier Thursday.

The 25-year-old Monroe joins a promising young nucleus in Milwaukee that features Giannis Antetokounmpo (age 20), Jabari Parker (20), Khris Middleton (23) and Michael Carter-Williams (23).

Monroe, the 6-foot-11 big man out of Georgetown, was linked to the Knicks as a primary free-agent target because of his ability to score, rebound and pass and his potential fit in the triangle offense. Monroe's decision to join the Bucks is a blow for New York, which is looking to add more talent around star Carmelo Anthony.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers also reportedly met with Monroe this week.

Falk, Monroe's agent, said all four teams offered his client a maximum deal but Monroe chose the Bucks because he believes they have the best chance at making the playoffs immediately.

NBA free agency started Wednesday, but teams can't officially sign players until July 9.

Monroe immediately gives the Bucks an offensive and rebounding presence inside.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, he was one of five players (along with DeMarcus Cousins


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Tweet him goodbye? Lakers' courtship of Aldridge cools

July, 1, 2015
Jul 1
6:51
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

videoIn the wake of reports that LaMarcus Aldridge will not be signing with the Lakers after their meeting with the free-agent power forward late Tuesday did not go well, the team has deleted a tweet from its verified Twitter account aimed at recruiting Aldridge. The specific tweet showed a photo of musician Adam Levine holding an Aldridge Lakers jersey.

Team president Jeanie Buss has also deleted a tweet from her verified account, aimed at recruiting Aldridge. That tweet showed a photo with the hashtag "#LAtoLA"

Aldridge, the Lakers' top free-agent target, was underwhelmed with Tuesday night's meeting, a source told ESPN's Chris Broussard, saying that the presentation focused too much on the off-the-court amenities of life in Los Angeles and not enough on basketball.

A source told the Los Angeles Times that Aldridge has crossed the Lakers off his list of potential destinations, but Aldridge's representation tweeted Wednesday that Aldridge had "not made any decisions yet. All reports to the contrary are false & he looks forward to sharing his plans soon."

Victor Decolongon/Getty Imagesnull

The Lakers star tweeted a meme as reports were circulating about the Lakers' meeting with Aldridge.
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Less than 24 hours after meeting with highly coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, the Los Angeles Lakers are "stunned" to hear that Aldridge was less than impressed by their presentation, a source told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. 

The Lakers were the first to sit down with Aldridge, in a meeting that lasted nearly two hours and had seemed to the Lakers to go "really well," a source told Shelburne. 

However, Aldridge was underwhelmed with the meeting, a source told ESPN's Chris Broussard, saying that the presentation focused too much on the off-the-court amenities of life in Los Angeles and not enough on basketball. The Lakers tried to sell Aldridge on the marketing opportunities available in L.A., the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Aldridge was described as "engaged" but "noncommittal" during the presentation, reported the Los Angeles Times. A source told the Times that Aldridge has crossed the Lakers off his list of potential destinations. Aldridge's representation tweeted Wednesday that Aldridge had "not made any decisions yet. All reports to the contrary are false & he looks forward to sharing his plans soon."

Lakers star Kobe Bryant was in attendance at the meeting. Aldridge asked Bryant how he thought they would play together and Bryant compared it to his dynamic with former teammate Pau Gasol, a source told Shelburne.

Wednesday evening, it appeared the Lakers were moving on without their top target.

The team deleted a tweet from its verified Twitter account aimed at recruiting Aldridge. The tweet showed a photo of musician Adam Levine holding an Aldridge Lakers jersey.

It also appeared team president Jeanie Buss deleted a tweet from her verified account that showed a photo with the hashtag "#LAtoLA."

The Lakers' #LAtoLA tweets weren't deleted out of sheepishness, sources told ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, but rather by NBA request after other teams complained.

The team had cleared the #LAtoLA tweet plan with the NBA's legal department beforehand but still honored the requests to delete the tweet, sources told McMenamin.

Aldridge also scheduled meetings with the Houston Rockets


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The Chicago Bulls have agreed to a five-year, $90 million maximum contract with free-agent guard Jimmy Butler, sources said.

Butler will have a player option for the fifth year of the deal, but the pact assures he will be in Chicago through the 2019-20 season.

After receiving the max offer Monday, Butler postponed meetings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, sources said.

Butler had one of the biggest breakout seasons in recent memory this past season for the Bulls, becoming an All-Star for the first time, while averaging 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists a game. He became one of the best two-way players in the game and guarded the opposition's best perimeter player on a nightly basis.

Bulls executive vice president John Paxson was already on record as saying the team would match any offer sheet Butler would sign this summer, but the hope within the organization was that it could work out a deal beforehand.

Also Wednesday, the Bulls agreed to a deal with veteran Mike Dunleavy.

Free agency started Wednesday, but deals can't officially be signed until July 9.

ESPN.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.


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Chris Broussard says free-agent guard Dwyane Wade is Plan B for a lot of teams.
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Chris Broussard lists the teams interested in signing DeAndre Jordan.
[+] EnlargeLaMarcus Aldridge, Tarik Black
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillLaMarcus Aldridge "seemed completely focused" during his meeting with the Lakers, a source said.

The Los Angeles Lakers were the first to sit down with LaMarcus Aldridge when free agency opened Tuesday night, and their meeting lasted nearly two hours, sources told ESPN.com.

The meeting went "really well," a source who was in the room for the Lakers' presentation told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.

"LaMarcus seemed completely focused," a source told Shelburne.

The Lakers' contingent included Kobe Bryant, president Jeanie Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak.

The Houston Rockets met with Aldridge after the Lakers.

Aldridge also will meet with the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors on Wednesday and with the New York Knicks on Thursday, league sources told ESPN.com.

According to one source, the chance of Aldridge staying with the Portland Trail Blazers


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Sources: Lakers to meet with Kevin Love

June, 30, 2015
Jun 30
8:52
PM PT
[+] EnlargeKevin Love
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Love has ties to Los Angeles; he played collegiately at UCLA and lives in L.A. during the offseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers will meet with free agent Kevin Love later this week, according to league sources.

One source said the Lakers have heard Love is likely to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they still want to sit down with him. The meeting will be part of a busy week for the Lakers, who also will meet with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and Greg Monroe.

Besides securing a top-flight power forward in Aldridge or Love, the Lakers hope to add a center. In addition to Jordan and Monroe, the Lakers have interest in Tyson Chandler and Robin Lopez, Aldridge's teammate in Portland the past two seasons, sources said.

The Lakers also will place a call to Marc Gasol, though the All-Star center is widely expected to re-sign with Memphis.


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Russell gives best pitch to Aldridge

June, 30, 2015
Jun 30
3:18
PM PT
Holmes By Baxter Holmes
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive

videoD'Angelo Russell has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for less than a week, but already the No. 2 overall draft pick is playing the role of recruiter.

In a radio appearance with Jim Rome on Tuesday, Russell, the ex-Ohio State standout guard, was asked to make a pitch for free-agent All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge to join the Lakers.

"Man, who doesn't want to be in L.A., starting with that," Russell said. "The franchise is on the come up, they've been so spoiled with winning around here, losing is not an option.

"I mean Portland, he played well, they played well as a team, they made some strides. But L.A., just me being out here for these few days, these few months I was before, there's nothing like it. A lot of guys want to be here, a lot of guys live here in the summer, so many faces here that you play on the Lakers you are already at the top of the crop of all the people that live here."

Aldridge is expected to meet with seven teams -- including the Lakers -- as he considers where he will sign as the free agency period begins at 9 p.m. PST Tuesday. Reports are he is likely to leave the Portland Trail Blazers, where he has played for the past nine seasons.

Looking at how Aldridge fits with his potential new teams

June, 30, 2015
Jun 30
3:22
PM PT
By Micah Adams, ESPN Stats & Information
ESPNLosAngeles.com

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Free agent LaMarcus Aldridge is scheduled to meet with seven teams as he considers where he will sign, and reports are he is likely to leave the Portland Trail Blazers.

Here’s a statistical look at how Aldridge fits with each of the seven teams, presented in the order he is meeting with them:

Los Angeles Lakers

Aldridge is a devastating force on the offensive block, ranking second in the NBA last season in points per game on post-ups.

He would give the Lakers a sorely needed post scorer; they ranked 12th in post-up scoring last season. Aldridge alone nearly averaged as many post-up points per game (8.4) as the entire Lakers team (8.7).

The Lakers’ numbers likely would have been higher had they had the services of Julius Randle, the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA draft, who broke a leg in the season opener.



Should Aldridge sign with the Lakers, he arguably would be the best big man Kobe Bryant has played with since an in-his-prime Pau Gasol.

Last season, Aldridge was the same age as Gasol was in the 2009-10 season, when the Lakers last won the NBA title. Their player efficiency ratings from those seasons were nearly identical.

Although Aldridge posted gaudier scoring numbers, he did it while shouldering a heavier burden as evidenced by a usage percentage nearly nine points higher than Gasol’s. Aldridge averaged more points per play in both post-up and pick-and pop situations last season than Gasol did in 2009-10.

Houston Rockets

Aldridge is not only a monster on the block, but he’s also the NBA’s most dangerous midrange player and one of the best pick-and-pop big men in the NBA.

He’s one of three players – DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin are the other two – in the top 10 in points per game on post-up plays and pick-and-pops a season ago.

The Rockets had essentially zero pick-and-pop presence last season, averaging less than one attempt per game. Twenty-eight of the other 29 NBA teams had at least twice as many pick-and-pop attempts in 2014-15. Aldridge would provide James Harden a different type of pick-and-roll partner than the rim-crashing Dwight Howard.

NBA, RocketsESPN Stats & Information/Second SpectrumRockets took the fewest midrange shots in the NBA last season.

Thanks in part to an analytics-informed front office, Houston has essentially shunned midrange shots. The Rockets averaged fewer than nine midrange shots and scored fewer than six points on midrange shots, both last in the NBA by a considerable amount.

Over the past 20 years, two teams have averaged fewer than 10 midrange shots per game. Those teams? The 2013-14 Rockets and 2014-15 Rockets.

Signing Aldridge would be a shift in philosophy. He has led the NBA in points on midrange shots each of the past three seasons and has outscored the next-closest player, Dirk Nowitzki, by 360 points over that span.

San Antonio Spurs

Aldridge is the only player in the NBA who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in each of the last two seasons. Aldridge would be the best big man Tim Duncan has played with since David Robinson, who was the last teammate of Duncan’s to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, doing so in Duncan’s rookie season in 1997-98.



Although Duncan was an All-NBA selection at the age of 38 -- something only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has achieved -- Duncan can’t do it every night. On the second night of back-to-back games last season, Duncan averaged 12.5 points and 8.1 rebounds and played just less than 27 minutes.

Aldridge averaged 22 points and almost 10 rebounds in 35 minutes a game on no day’s rest. Signing Aldridge would allow the Spurs to rest Duncan more, keeping him fresher for a postseason run while suffering no drop-off in production.

Phoenix Suns

If the Suns were to sign Aldridge, he would give them a post presence they’ve lacked since Amar’e Stoudemire left for the New York Knicks.

Phoenix ranked among the bottom 10 last season in post-up points and attempts. Aldridge wouldn’t have to play center, as the Suns have 7-foot-1 Alex Len, the fifth pick in the 2013 draft, whose block rate and defensive rebound rate jumped last season.

For a team that’s likely to deploy two point guards at once in Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, the Suns lack big men who can help in the pick-and-roll game. Phoenix ranked 26th last season in points per game by big men in the pick-and-roll. Among teams that missed the playoffs, only the Philadelphia 76ers received less production from its big men in the pick-and-roll department.

Dallas Mavericks

In San Antonio, Aldridge would be going to a team where, it could be argued, Kawhi Leonard has been given the reins as the franchise’s next cornerstorne.

In Dallas, Aldridge would be that guy as Nowitzki enters his 18th season and has hinted as recently as this past spring that he would be willing to accept a sixth-man role.

Although not the three-point shooter that Nowitzki has been throughout his career, Aldridge would step into a system that has featured a player (Nowitzki) who has made his bread and butter in that midrange, where Aldridge excels.

Since Rick Carlisle took over as coach in 2008-09, three teams have scored more points on midrange shots than the Mavericks. Over that same span, no player has averaged more points per game on midrange shots than Nowitzki. Next on that list? Aldrige.

With Nowitzki’s help, could Aldridge continue to add the 3-pointer to his arsenal? After taking no more than 15 3-point shots in any of the previous three seasons, Aldridge last season took 105 of them and shot 35 percent, a career high.

As Nowitzki has climbed in age, the Mavericks have dropped in post scoring. Four seasons removed from ranking eighth in points per game on post-ups, the Mavericks ranked 22nd this past season. Adding Aldridge would certainly provide a boost on the block.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors, driven by an All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan along with reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, would be an interesting fit. Lowry and DeRozan are on the books for at least another two seasons, whereas Williams is an unrestricted free agent.

Toronto’s starting power forwards combined to average 9.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season, and they have struggled since Chris Bosh left for Miami in the summer of 2010. The 9.6 points per game ranked 26th in the NBA, last among all playoff teams.

Like in Phoenix, Aldridge wouldn’t have to play center, as the Raptors have Jonas Valanciunas, the No. 5 draft selection in 2011. Toronto is similar to Houston in that it could use Aldridge’s help in the pick-and-pop game. Only the Rockets scored fewer points in pick-and-pop situations than the Raptors last season.

New York Knicks

The final team Aldridge is scheduled to meet with is the Knicks. During the draft, ESPN analyst Jalen Rose listed the Knicks’ team needs as “everything.”

An accomplished low-post scorer would be a great place to start as the Knicks averaged 33.4 points in the paint, last in the NBA and the fewest the Knicks have averaged in a season in more than a decade. New York shot 50.2 percent on shots in the paint, better than only the 76ers, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks didn’t get much help on the glass from their front line, either, as their starting power forwards and centers combined for 11.3 rebounds per game, last in the NBA.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.9
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.2