The Los Angeles Lakers’ attempt to sign Carmelo Anthony officially began on Thursday afternoon, as the organization met with the All-Star in L.A. In addition to the Lakers’ brass, Kobe Bryant and James Worthy were expected to join the meeting with Anthony.
Bryant will be a large part of the team’s pitch to Anthony, after reportedly flying in from Europe to speak with the free agent. Due to a flight conflict from Greece, Bryant miss the meeting, but would likely be forgiven by Anthony. The two have been friends for years, having played on multiple USA basketball teams together.
Not only do the Lakers hope to pair Anthony and Bryant together, they also want to bring LeBron James in the fold. With nearly $30 million to spend under the salary cap, even before possibly using the stretch provision on Steve Nash, L.A. is hoping to sign both superstars. Forming their own “Big 3” could make the Lakers favorites to win the 2015 NBA Finals.
Acquiring both Anthony and James might be a pipe dream for the Lakers. James reportedly is looking to sign a max contract for the first time in his career, and he has yet to agree to a meeting with Los Angeles.
Even if signing James isn’t a realistic possibility, the Lakers are making a strong play for Anthony. Bryant is entering the 19th season of his career and he's hinted that he’ll retire when his two-year contract is up. Once the team’s all-time leading scorer is done, Anthony could become the face of the franchise.
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The Lakers can pair one or two lesser stars with Anthony and Bryant. Pau Gasol could return to Los Angeles after hitting free agency, and since he played for the team last year, L.A. would still be able to use salary-cap space to sign other players of significance.
Gasol struggled in the last two seasons, but he appears to have plenty of suitors. According to ESPN, the Oklahoma City Thunder are doing their best to sign the big man, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both met with Gasol on Wednesday. The San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls have also been mentioned as potential destinations for the veteran.
L.A. has just four players on the roster, but the team believes it has a chance to convince Anthony to leave New York. The Knicks might be the slight favorite to sign the free agent, considering they can offer him more money than any other team. The Bulls appear to be New York’s biggest competition, but the organization is reportedly concerned that Anthony won’t leave the Big Apple. Anthony also had meetings with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers would be able to offer Anthony approximately $96 million over four years. Gasol made over $19 million last year, but he’s certain to take a pay cut.