Now that LeBron James has decided to return to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony is the biggest name in free agency. Ten days after officially opting out of his contract, the All-Star is still without a team.
Earlier in the week, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that Anthony would re-sign with the New York Knicks, barring a last-second change of heart. Days later, though, the 30-year-old remains unsigned. The longer Anthony takes to make his decision, the more likely it seems that he’s preparing to sign with another team.
The Los Angeles Lakers remain in the hunt to land Anthony, who is reportedly considering them, along with the Knicks and Chicago Bulls. James’s decision to rejoin the Cavaliers eliminates another possible contender from the picture.
Since James and Anthony became free agents, there have been rumors that the two have wanted to play together. The Lakers have enough salary-cap space to pay each star approximately $16 million, but a scenario with James and Anthony signing with L.A. was a longshot. It also seemed unlikely that James could convince Anthony to join him in Miami, but the long process left fans wondering if Anthony might replace Chris Bosh in the Heat’s “Big Three.”
With Miami out of the picture, L.A. has a legitimate chance to land Anthony. Chicago might give the veteran the best chance to win in the 2014-2015 season, but Los Angeles is also a real threat to the Knicks. Anthony was reportedly impressed with the Lakers’ pitch, and he’s intrigued by the idea of playing alongside Kobe Bryant. L.A. only has four players under contract, which would give them flexibility to make moves, even after giving Anthony a max contract.
Anthony’s wife, TV personality La La Vazquez, could also influence his decision. In the Lakers’ pitch to sign Anthony, Hall of Famer James Worthy emphasized to Anthony how playing in L.A. would be beneficial for his wife. Worthy told SLAM that he believes the free agent will end up in New York or Los Angeles.
If Anthony does decide to head out west, one of the Lakers’ moves might be re-signing Pau Gasol. The team is reportedly looking to bring back the big man, and adding Anthony would give them a better chance of keeping Gasol. If the Lakers have a chance to be a contender next season, he’d be much more likely to return to Los Angeles, especially considering they can offer Gasol more money than any other team.
Losing out on the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes could severely hurt the Lakers’ ability to keep Gasol. He’s reportedly met with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Chicago Bulls appear to have interest in the 34-year-old. If the Knicks keep Anthony, they are expected to make a push for Gasol, as well.