Friday, August 1, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "Carmelo Anthony"

Carmelo Anthony

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July 11, 2014

 

  • Jeremy Lin: The Lakers/Rockets agreed to a trade that sends Lin to the purple and gold along with a 2015 first round pick.  The Lakers send no salary back to the Rockets as Houston prepares to offer Chris Bosh a max contract.
  •  Pau Gasol: The Lakers are open to a S&T deal if Gasol decides to pursue another career opportunity elsewhere (via Mark Medina – LA Daily News)

 

July 10, 2014

 

  • Steve Blake: Reached agreement on a two-year, $4 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers (via Adrian Wojnarowski – Yahoo! Sports)
  • Pau Gasol: Met with GM Mitch Kupchak at the Lakers practice facility on Wednesday night (via Marc Spears – Yahoo! Sports)
  • Kent Bazemore: Lakers called Kent Bazemore again on Wednesday to reiterate that the team would like to re-sign him (via Michael Scotto – Sheridan Hoops)

 

July 9, 2014

 

  • Kobe Bryant: While not a free agent, Kobe at his basketball camp in Santa Barbara spoke to the media before it got started.  Couple things to note, endorsed Byron Scott as the next head coach of the Lakers and mentioned that the Buss family has a solid plan they want “to put a contender on the floor next year… “they’re going for it.” Also said there is a plan B in place if Melo does not sign with the Lakers.
  • Carmelo Anthony: Barring a ‘last minute change of heart’, Anthony will reportedly re-sign with the Knicks and will announce his decision on Thursday, according to a source close to the forward.  Other sources, including his agent Leon Rose, all denied that a decision was made (via Frank Isola – NY Daily News)
  • Isaiah Thomas: “I’m just waiting to see how it goes and waiting for Carmelo to decide. His decision just opens it up for me.” (via Eli Friedman – ThunderousIntentions/OKC Blog)

July 7, 2014

 

  • LeBron James: It is said that LeBron’s decision will come down to the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers (via Adrian Wojnarowski – Yahoo! Sports)
  • Jordan Crawford: The guard is receiving interest from the Lakers,  Bulls, Mavs, Knicks, and Nets (via Marc Spears – Yahoo! Sports)
  • Pau Gasol: The Thunder, once considered a front-runner, feel like Gasol is now a long shot. The center met with OKC coach Scott Brooks on Monday.  The Lakers, Spurs, and Bulls are all interested.  It is reported that Gasol has concerns about leaving a ‘culturally diverse’ city like Los Angeles and asked Brooks about the quality of life in Oklahoma City (via Dave McMenamin – ESPN)

July 6, 2014

 

  • Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images
    Image: Andrew D. Bernstein | Getty Images

    Carmelo Anthony: There is a “rising sense around the league” that Melo will choose between the Lakers and the Knicks (via Marc Stein – ESPN) UPDATE: “After contemplating his options this weekend, free agent Carmelo Anthony’s decision isn’t expected to linger late into the week, a source said” (via Marc Spears – Yahoo! Sports)

  • Jordan Farmar: The point guard agreed to a 2yr/$4.2M deal with the Clippers (via Brad Turner – LA Times)
  • Isaiah Thomas: The Lakers are a “real possibility for Thomas.  While the Heat are also pursuing the point guard, the Lakers have the money to get a deal done.  As with everything else, nothing will happen until decisions from Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are made (via Jared Zwerling – Bleacher Report/NBA TV)

 

July 5, 2014

Carmelo Anthony
Image: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke
  • LeBron James: The Lakers met with LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul on Friday, and the four-time MVP is giving similar consideration to what the Lakers have to offer, according to sources. (via Ramona Shelburne / Chris Broussard)
  • Carmelo Anthony: The one stumbling block is that Anthony is holding out hope that good friend LeBron James can find the two a place where the money is good and they can run together. (via NY Daily News)
    The Lakers’ pitch — of teaming Anthony with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and prized rookie Julius Randle on a team with no long-term salary obligations — made what one source described as a “strong impression” on Anthony. (via Ramona Shelburne / Chris Broussard)
    The Lakers made a MAJOR impact on Melo this week. It is now a legit three-way battle between Los Angeles, Chicago and New York to land him. As one source in process says of Lakers bid, “They can promise max money (4 years, $97M) without any roster moves needing to be made.” (via Bill Simmons / Adrian Wojnarowski)
  • Pau Gasol: Gasol has emerged as a key selling point for the Lakers. While the Spaniard has been listening to pitches from championship contenders who lack much financial flexibility, such as Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Miami and Chicago, sources believe he would quickly re-sign with the Lakers if they are able to land Anthony or James. (via Ramona Shelburne / Chris Broussard)

July 4, 2014

  • LeBron James: Lakers met with LeBron James’s agent, Rich Paul, Friday in Cleveland. (via David Aldridge)

July 3, 2014

  • LeBron James: GM Mitch Kupchak is on a plane to Cleveland to meet with Rich Paul, agent for James.  They will reportedly meet Friday. (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN) MORE: Lakers said they didn’t have meeting set up with LeBron James’ agent but Kupchak + Lakers biz VP Tim Harris are in CLE. Kupchak and Harris flew to CLE on a private jet immediately after meeting with Carmelo in Los Angeles this afternoon. (via Mike Bresnahan – LA Times)
  • Carmelo Anthony: The Lakers are scheduled to meet with Melo this afternoon and it is reported that Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher have flown into Los Angeles to meet with the forward later this evening.  Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports that Laker legend James Worthy will be involved in the meeting. UPDATE: Lakers have offered a 4-yr/$97M deal to Melo (the maximum salary)
  • Pau Gasol: Carmelo Anthony reportedly wants to sell Gasol on playing in New York together.  The center continues to get interest from teams and could be a priority for teams that miss out on Melo and LeBron.
  • Chris Kaman: The center signed a 2yr/$10M deal with the Portland Trailblazers
  • Jordan Farmar: Clippers are interested in the point guard and it could be a fit after Darren Collison left to sign a deal with the Sacramento Kings.
  • Isaiah Thomas: The Sacramento Kings signed Darren Collison to a 3-yr/$16M deal which could mean the end for Thomas in Sacramento. The Lakers have expressed interest in the point guard. UPDATE: Thomas’ preferred destinations in order are: Lakers, Heat, and Pistons.

 

July 2, 2014

 

  • Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Pau Gasol: The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder have emerged as serious suitors for the center.  OKC’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook spoke directly to Gasol in LA today and the Thunder are considered a “frontrunner” (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN)

  • Greg Monroe: If the Lakers are unable to re-sign Pau Gasol, it has Monroe on its list of potential replacements. Signing the center could be tough since he is a restricted free agent (via Brian Windhorst on SportsCenter)
  • Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, and Chris Kaman: All players’ agents were contacted by general manager Mitch Kupchak about a potential return to the Lakers (via Dave McMenamin – ESPN)
  • Kyle Lowry:  The Lakers are among the bidders for the point guard who is mulling over an offer to stay with the Toronto Raptors (via Brian Windhorst – ESPN) UPDATE: Lowry has agreed to a 4yr/$48 million deal to stay with the Toronto Raptors (via Adrian Wojnarowski – Yahoo! Sports)
  •  Carmelo Anthony: UPDATE (2:30 pm) - The Lakers are ‘laser-focused’ on its Thursday meeting with Melo.  They’re making other calls, but all other business is conditional on that
    (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN)
  • Lance Stephenson: The Lakers reached out to Stephenson’s agent to express interest in the guard. The Pacers offered Stephenson 5-yrs/$44M but the offer was not accepted (via Chris Broussard – ESPN)

 

July 1, 2014

 

  • Kyle Lowry:  The Lakers are among the bidders for the point guard who is mulling over an offer to stay with the Toronto Raptors (via Brian Windhorst – ESPN)
  • Josh McRoberts: The Lakers have shown interest in McRoberts who played for the team during the 2011-2012 season (via Jeff Goodman – ESPN)
  •  Pau Gasol: The Lakers placed a call to Gasol to express interest in bringing him back (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN) — UPDATE (5:25 pm): Gasol met with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak on Tuesday and the meeting lasted a “few hours” (via Dave McMenamin)
  • Jodie MeeksThe Lakers reached out to Meeks to show its interest in bringing the guard back (via Mark Medina – LA Daily News) UPDATE: Meeks and the Detroit Pistons have agreed to a 3yr/$19 million deal (via Adrian Wojnarowski – Yahoo! Sports)
  • Image: Robert Mayer | US Presswire
    Image: Robert Mayer | US Presswire

    LeBron James: The Lakers placed a call to Rich Paul, the agent for LeBron (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN)

  • Carmelo Anthony: The Lakers secured a meeting with Anthony that will take place on Thursday (via Ramona Shelburne – ESPN)
  • Chris Bosh: The Lakers have expressed interest in the power forward (via Chris Broussard – ESPN)
  • Chandler Parsons: The Lakers expressed interest in the small forward (via Jeff Goodman – ESPN)
  • Trevor Ariza: The Lakers are on the list of Ariza’s potential destinations (via Dave McMenamin – ESPN)
  • Luol Deng: The Lakers have shown interest in Deng (via Alex Kennedy – Basketball Insiders)
  • Nick Young: The Lakers contacted Young’s representatives to express its interest in bringing him back (via Mike Bresnahan – LA Times)
  • Jordan Hill: The Lakers expressed interest in bringing Hill back (via Adrian Wojnarowski -Yahoo! Sports)
  • Isaiah Thomas: The Lakers were one of the teams to contact Thomas’ agent to express interest in the point guard (via Alex Kennedy – Basketball Insiders)
  • Caron Butler: The Lakers have expressed interest in the veteran forward (via David Aldridge – NBA.com)
  • Kent Bazemore: The Lakers reached out to the guard to express interest in bringing him back (via Michael Scotto – Sheridan Hoops)

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Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony
Image: Catherine Steenkeste | Getty Images

Superstar forward Carmelo Anthony opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks as expected on June 22nd.

As Anthony explores his options to identify which destination, most notably the Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and Houston Rockets, will help him win his first NBA championship, a current member of the Lakers’ organization has apparently started the recruiting process to help lure Anthony to the City of Angels.

According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant, who missed most of last season with injuries, has already started his own recruiting process this week:

Though the Los Angeles Lakers are not on Anthony’s current list, Kobe Bryant plans to recruit him to the team. Bryant, who is close with Anthony, spoke to him by telephone when they were in separate parts of Europe earlier this week.

Bryant told ESPN.com in a text message that he plans to meet with Anthony, as well.

With stars like Anthony and LeBron James set to become free agents on July 1st, we will soon find out  whether or not Bryant’s recruiting pitches work to help rebuild a roster that currently only has Bryant, PG Steve Nash and C Robert Sacre.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse D. Garrabrant, Getty Images

March 25, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TNT
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers look to build off of their win vs. the Orlando Magic on Sunday as they face off vs. New York Knicks (29-41) tonight.

Jordan Hill  had a career night, scoring 28 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Sunday’s win. Hill’s numbers do not come from plays getting run through him, but through effort and hustle, primarily grabbing offensive rebounds. Although the chances Hill will match his numbers from Sunday tonight seem unlikely, Hill should still be able to make an impact in tonight’s game also.

However, the Lakers chances of winning tonight will be hampered since C Pau Gasol will not play tonight. Gasol, who has been one of a few consistent Laker this season, suffered a vertigo illness that caused him to miss the 2nd half of Sunday’s game and get taken to a hospital by ambulance

Things have turned around for the Knicks franchise ever since rumors they are now only 2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After losing 6 straight games, Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson decided to shake up his lineup, bringing G JR Smith and F Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup. Although they lost another game after Woodson switched the starting lineup, the Knicks then went on an 8 game winning streak until losing a close game vs. Cavaliers on Sunday.

Carmelo Anthony leads the Knicks team into Staples Center tonight. Anthony, who has scored 28.1 PPG while grabbing 8.2 RPG and dishing out 3.1 APG, seemed like a sure thing to depart the Knicks a few weeks ago. Now, with the hire of Jackson and the Knicks strong push to make the playoffs, Anthony not only seems to be unsure about departing New York now and seeks to will his team into the playoffs with his strong play.

Projected Starters

PG – Raymond Felton / Kendall Marshall [Advantage: Even]
SG – JR Smith / Jodie Meeks [Advantage: Even]
SF – Carmelo Anthony / Nick Young [Advantage: Knicks]
PF – Amar’e Stoudemire / Jordan Hill [Advantage: Even]
C – Tyson Chandler / Chris Kaman [Advantage: Even]

Notable Bench Players

Knicks: F Tim Hardaway Jr., G Shannon Brown, G Iman Shumpert, G Pablo Prigioni, C Cole Aldrich
Lakers: F Wesley Johnson C Robert SacreXavier Henry, G Kent Bazemore

Bench Advantage: Knicks

Injury List

Knicks: Out-F Kenyon Martin, Out-F Andrea Bargnani, GTD-G Iman Shumpert
Lakers: Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G Kobe Bryant, Doubtful-PG Steve NashWill Play-G Xavier Henry

Bottom Line

Knowing that Phil Jackson will be in the Knicks front office have definitely given the Knicks player a major jolt that they have been lacking. Although the Lakers looked great vs. Magic on Sunday, the Knicks will play with a huge sense of urgency to sneak into the playoffs. The Lakers will have to play very smart on the defensive end to have a shot at defeating the Knicks tonight.

Prediction

Knicks: 111-99

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Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline has passed and with it any semblance of the Lakers making any kind of big personnel moves this season. This year has been a tough season for Laker fans as their team and its superstar have been hobbled by countless injuries. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. The Lakers go into this offseason with enough cap room to acquire a big name free agent. They did not trade Pau before the deadline, so the Lakers will either have a lot of cap room from Pau’s contract coming off the books, or they will be able to convince Pau to stay with the team for less money. That may seem like a long shot, but Pau loves the Lakers, he loves Kobe and he may also love their next head coach *wink wink*. They also have a first round draft pick that, given their abysmal record, will most likely be a top-5 pick. That means the Lakers will be able to sport a squad next season consisting of a Kobe, Pau, Big Name Free Agent X and Talented Draft Pick X core. That may not be enough to win a title next year, but it will absolutely be a contender if healthy and under the supervision of a new head coach. With all that said, here are some questions from LakerNation fans:

Q: Are we going to re-sign Nick Young next year?

- Jacob

A: If the Lakers are serious about contending immediately, they must re-sign Nick Young. Swaggy P has been one of the few bright spots this year for the Lakers as he earned the respect of Kobe and the rest of Laker Nation by competing every night. There are very few teams in this league that have a 6th man as effective as Nick Young. He is instant offense and his ability to draw foul calls on 3-pointers is uncanny. Young has always been capable of scoring, but he has an added intensity in his game since joining the Lakers this season. He knows what it takes to deliver for the Purple and Gold.

 

Q: How do you feel about the Lakers landing a big name free agent, this off-season with D’Antoni as the head coach?

- Jermaine

A: I feel very strongly about this issue, but I will do my best to keep it PG. THERE IS NO FREAKING WAY ANY BIG NAME FREE AGENT WANTS TO COME PLAY FOR A COACH THAT DOESN’T CARE ABOUT DEFENSE.  With the myriad of issues I have with Mike D’Antoni, the two I just mentioned take the cake. The man obviously doesn’t give a damn about defense when his team gives up an average of 105.9 PPG. That’s the 2nd worst in the entire NBA. Only the Philadelphia 76ers give up more points than us and they’re trying to lose every game this year! Let that sink in for a moment. D’Antoni may be a great offensive mind, but that does not make him a good head coach. I guarantee if Tom Thibodeau were coaching the Lakers, they would not be in the bottom half of the NBA in terms of defense. You want to talk about injuries? Look at the Chicago Bulls and their injuries. They rank 2nd overall in the league in terms of defense. Injuries are not an excuse for a lack of defense and effort. If the Lakers really want to land big name free agents this summer, Mike D’Antoni must be fired at the end of this season.

 

Q: Can we still get Love? Or Melo or even Deng? Please get them.

- Alexis

A: When you talk about Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and even Luol Deng, those guys want to win now. They don’t want to play for a coach with the same philosophies as Mike D’Antoni. Getting the right head coach will be step one. The second step will be finding out if Kobe is still Kobe. Make no mistake about it, if the Lakers didn’t have Kobe Bryant on their team, none of these free agents (except maybe Love) would even consider coming to the Lakers. Kobe must show that he is still one of the best basketball players in the world after coming off two of the worst injuries in his career.

 

Q: My question is, will the LA Lakers make it to the playoffs this season or next season, yes or no?

- Eyrika

A: I stated in my preseason article that the Lakers would not make the playoffs this season and that remains true. As for next season, it truly depends on a number of outcomes and possibilities. Who will be the new head coach? Will the Lakers land a top-5 draft pick this year? If so, who will they select? What free agents will be brought in? Which current players will stay with the Lakers? And, of course, what will the status of Kobe Bryant be? If Kobe is still Kobe, which I assume will be true, the Lakers will always have a shot. If the Lakers bring in one of the earlier mentioned big name free agents, that shot increases tenfold. My gut tells me the Lakers will get a new head coach, a lottery pick, land a big name free agent and the most underrated move they will make will be re-signing Pau Gasol. With that scenario, I believe the Lakers will be instant contenders next season and in the future. All things will be right in Los Angeles as the Lakers are at the top once again.

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Image: Timothy A. Clary | Getty Images

According to Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus of the LA Times, the Lakers’ plan back to prominence is slowly becoming clearer, but fans might need to wait one more season until that plan starts to take shape.

“The Lakers are not interested in possible free agent Carmelo Anthony, who claims he won’t break the New York Knicks’ bank to stay with them.”

The summer of 2014 was supposed to when the Lakers made a big splash in their attempt to become an NBA title contender again, but from the sound things, it is possible the team will look to 2015 to get the ball rolling.

But there is one scenario where the Lakers could make an impact this summer and that is if LeBron James opts-out of his contract and decides to enter free agency.

“If LeBron James opts out of his contract, they’ll make a phone call, but it’s a longshot he’ll leave Miami for the Lakers.”

If that scenario does not happen, why would the Lakers look to 2015?

“They do like Cleveland forward Luol Deng but don’t want to overpay for him this summer, meaning their eyes are firmly on Kevin Love in July 2015 and Kevin Durant in 2016.”

In 2015, Love has the ability to opt-out of his contract and become a free agent.   If that happens, he will be the premier target for the Lakers, which is not a surprise after the two have been linked over the past few seasons. 

In 2016, the Lakers, and really every other team with the ability to do, will pursue Kevin Durant, who could be a free agent that summer if he does not sign an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The intriguing part of Durant’s potential free agency is that will more than likely be Kobe Bryant’s final season, opening up a nice chunk of cap space to potentially sign one of the best players in the league today.

There is still plenty of time before Love and Durant become realistic options for the Lakers, but it is always fun to speculate and talk about.

With this news, it is going to be a very interesting off season for the Lakers.  If no big moves are made, is the team looking at a similar season to the one they are currently experiencing?  If that is the case, will the fans accept another year of below average results?  Does D’Antoni keep his job if next season is just a bridge to the following summer?  Many questions will need to be answered.  Answers that could come in April once the Lakers regular season concludes.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak mentioned a few days ago that the Lakers plan could extend past one summer, so this news would not be shocking:

“I don’t think that we’ll use our cap money to patch together a team for next year. We’re looking to bring something [big] to Los Angeles,” he said. “May take more than one year to build, I don’t know. But because we have a lot of money this summer doesn’t mean we’ll spend it all. We’ll spend it wisely.”

The difference between this year and next year, the Lakers has its 2014 first round pick in the draft.  Next year though, their first round pick will belong to the Phoenix Suns unless the Lakers end up in the lottery again with a top five pick.

While it is fun to think about Love and Durant in the purple and gold, I can’t help but have some concerns.  This does seem like an all or nothing plan and if both players were to sign extensions with their respective teams or go elsewhere during free agency, where does that leave the Lakers after the Kobe era comes to a close?  One thing is for certain, fans expect results and are historically impatient.

Progress needs to be made this summer.  At the very least, this team needs to become a playoff team again because back-to-back years of missing the playoffs just does not happen to this franchise.  It is up to the front office to make sure that does not happen.

Stay with LakerNation.com for all the latest news and rumors regarding the Los Angeles Lakers!

S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 2-8, over their 66-year history.

February 2, 2002

Phil Jackson became just the 13th coach in NBA history to notch 700 career wins in a 100-85 Lakers’ victory over Memphis. In his 12th season as a head coach, Jackson improved his record to 700-246. Jackson retired from coaching in 2011 with a record of 1155-485 and a winning percentage of .704, which is currently the highest winning percentage of any coach in NBA history.

February 2, 1996

The Lakers and Bulls set a then-record for the highest-rated NBA game ever on cable television, when Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson faced off on the hardwood for the first time since the 1991 NBA Finals. Jordan notched 17 points for Chicago, while Johnson scored 15 points off the bench for Los Angeles, in a 99-84 Bulls’ win in Los Angeles. The game, which aired on TNT, was viewed by 4.75 million homes and earned a 7.1 rating and 13.1 share. This record lasted for just three months before it was broken during a playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.

Bernstein/Getty Images
Bernstein/Getty Images

February 2, 2009

Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 61 points in a 126-117 victory over the Knicks in New York. Bryant went 19 for 31 from the field and 20 for 20 from the free throw line. He broke Michael Jordan’s opponent record at the Garden of 55 points, as well as Bernard King’s overall record of 60 for most ever points scored at the Mecca. Carmelo Anthony broke Bryant’s Garden record when he scored 62 points against the Bobcats just last month.

February 4, 1987

The Lakers held the reeling Sacramento Kings to just four points in the first quarter, marking the fewest points scored in the first quarter of an NBA game since the establishment of the shot clock in 1954. In a balanced effort, Los Angeles went on to rout Sacramento 128-92, as seven Lakers scored in double figures.

February 7, 2001

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning 15-foot jump shot over Shawn Marion with 2.7 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Phoenix Suns 85-83 at STAPLES Center. With 23 points in the second half, Bryant scored a game-high 32 points, while collecting eight rebounds and notching nine assists in the final game before the All-Star break.

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Photo: Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, an anonymous NBA general manager recently told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that Kevin Love coming to play for the Lakers, in 2015 once he becomes a free agent, is a “100 percent certainty.”

If this rumor were to be true, it’s tough to see the Lakers signing Carmelo Anthony this offseason. While having Anthony and Love to go with a returning Kobe Bryant would be the most ideal situation, this would be highly unlikely under the new collective bargaining agreement.

If the Lakers don’t sign Anthony, but do sign Kevin Love, a scenario of Love, this year’s (hopefully) promising draft pick, and another 2015 free agent joining the Lakers is a likely scenario.

What are your thoughts, Nation? Leave them in the comment section below.

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Photo: Robyn Beck | Getty Images

This is sure to make fans of the “Knicks Tape” nervous.

Despite insisting he will not help recruit Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers this summer when the New York Knicks superstar forward becomes a free agent, Kobe Bryant has seemingly laid out the ground work for Anthony’s “Escape from New York.” Bryant recently compared Anthony’s situation to Miami HEAT star LeBron James‘s decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 in the pursuit of an NBA Championship.

“It’s a familiar story with LeBron James, and he seemed to turn out OK.”

James received a ton of criticism for his decision, but in retrospect, it turned out to be the best decision for his professional career.

During his seven year tenure in Cleveland, James’s lone trip to the NBA finals ended in a sweep. Since his arrival in Miami four seasons ago, the HEAT have been to the NBA Finals every year, and are the two time defending NBA champions.

Bryant acknowledged that a similar backlash may await Anthony should he decide to bolt from New York, but reminded everyone that the decision should be made for what’s best for Anthony, while also vowing to be there for support if his friend needs him.

“I think that players, when that time comes, will have to make the best decision for them and their families. If he wants to call me for advice later as a friend, I’ll be more than happy to give it to him.”

Some fans and critics have labeled Carmelo Anthony as being a one dimensional scorer who is unworthy of donning the purple and gold. While Laker Nation seems divided on the possibility of acquiring Anthony this summer, Bryant provided the remedy for shaking that toxic label.

“The only way to do that is to win. I won five championships and there are some of you that still say that; so you kinda just take it and roll with it. The most important thing is to win a championship and that’s the only way to shake it.”

It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers will do their due diligence and speak to Anthony, should he decide to opt out if his contract this summer. Outside of LeBron James, Anthony is the best available player this coming off-season.

As Bryant noted, it will be up to Anthony to decide what is best for him. All we can do is enjoy the ride.

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Photo by Nick Laham | Getty Images

January 25, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points this past Friday vs. a top-10 defensive team in Charlotte Bobcats to single-handedly snap the New York Knicks’ 5-game losing streak.

Now, he and the rest of the Knicks (16-27) get to play vs. the Los Angeles Lakers (16-28), the NBA’s worst defensive team by a wide margin.

The Knicks might arguably be the most disappointing NBA team this season, with multiple locker room problems and playing without any team continuity. Despite the turmoil, Anthony has carried this dysfunctional Knicks all on his own back, scoring 27.0 PPG, grabbing 9.1 RPG, and dishing out 3.0 APG. He creates a matchup nightmare for the Lakers since the Lakers do not possess a player who has the size and strength to match up vs. Anthony.

Rumors and speculations have swirled around Anthony’s potential destination including signing with the Lakers to team up with G Kobe Bryant. However, he currently wears a Knicks uniform and the Lakers have to figure out a way to contain him.

The Lakers, on the other hand, suffered a bad loss vs. Orlando Magic, 114-105 as a result of allowing 38 points in the 3rd quarter. C/F Pau Gasol, who had another double-double vs. Magic by scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, seem to now arguably be the best offensive Center in the NBA during the month of January. Gasol needs to play like one today in order to offset Anthony’s probably scoring outburst.

Also, this would be the first time the Lakers will play vs. former Laker and 2010 NBA Finals hero F Metta World Peace, who the Lakers amnestied last offseason to clear cap space. World Peace’s playing status remains uncertain today due to a strained left knee.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / Raymond Felton [Advantage: Even]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Pablo Prigioni [Advantage: Lakers]
SF - Nick Young / Iman Shumpert [Advantage: Lakers]
PF - Ryan Kelly / Carmelo Anthony [Advantage: Knicks]
C - Pau Gasol / Tyson Chandler [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Knicks: G Tim Hardaway Jr.G JR SmithC Jeremy Tyler, Metta World Peace

Lakers: Wesley JohnsonG Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Lakers

Injury List

Knicks: Out-F Kenyon Martin, Out-F Amare Stoudemire, Out-F Andrea Bargnani, Questionable-F Metta World Peace

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: No explanation nor analysis necessary. You can figure this one out.

Bottom Line

Hopefully the Knicks play like they have for the majority of this season that caused them to land in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers need to win today’s game to salvage this roller-coaster Grammy’s trip, where they currently suffer a 2-4 record. The Lakers definitely possess better team chemistry than the Knicks, so they have to work as a team to grind out this game. Unfortunately, their defense will most likely haunt them, and the Knicks should win this game.

Prediction

Knicks: 116-107

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Photo: Jeff Gross | Getty Images

A show of hands, Laker Nation: Who would like to see Carmelo Anthony in a Lakers uniform next season?

According to Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com, Carmelo Anthony will either play in New York for the Knicks or Los Angeles for the Lakers.

Ultimately, Anthony will most likely choose between the Knicks and Lakers.

A disappointing season thus far for the Knicks has Anthony mulling his options between two similarly popular, yet very different franchises. The Knicks haven’t won an NBA title since Walt Frazier and his mutton chops were running NYC during the 1972-73 season. The Lakers, on the other hand, are the epitome of a top-tier franchise and they have the hardware to back it up.

From that perspective, the choice seems to be an easy one for Anthony. He would, though, have to leave an extra $30 million guaranteed from the Knicks on the table if he chooses to sign with the Lakers.

“Should Anthony decide money won’t buy happiness this time around, the Los Angeles Lakers represent his best option to join a team with a proven winning track record, the ability to pay him adequately and a fellow star in Kobe Bryant.”

Scotto also brings up an interesting point in regards to Anthony and his fellow 2003 NBA Draft classmates:

“Unlike fellow draft classmates LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Anthony was the only member of that group to sign a five-year maximum extension, with a fourth-year option, for more guaranteed money.”

James, Wade and Bosh took less money to go to a wining organization and become legitimate contenders.

Will Anthony do the same?

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Carmelo Anthony
Credit: USATSI
Carmelo Anthony
Credit: USATSI

It is well-known throughout the NBA that the Lakers will have a nice amount of cap space this upcoming offseason even with the new $48.5 million contract of Kobe Bryant on the books.  What is unclear is the direction the team may be looking to go in.

Will the Lakers attempt to make a splash by adding a big name free agent such as Carmelo Anthony?  In previous weeks, the Lakers and the 29-year-old small forward have been linked, saying it was an obvious pairing, but yesterday Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD noted that the interest from the Lakers may not be as high as originally thought.

“For weeks its been Anthony and the LA Lakers talked about as a likely pairing, however insiders doubted that the Lakers would make Anthony a max-level contract offer.”

While Anthony is the most likely big name free agent to come to the Lakers, I can see why the team may not want to head in that direction.  Pairing a soon to be 30-year-old Anthony along with a 36-year-old Kobe may not exactly scream championship with a lack of financial ability to add more quality pieces around those two.  Anthony has an opt out clause after this season but there is a chance he could opt in if traded during this season.

Although, I would not call this situation dead in any sense.  Anthony considers Kobe to be an older brother and mentor entering the league.  The relationship could ultimately drive the Lakers to add Anthony this offseason which would bring excitement back to Staples Center for the purple and gold and give the team a dynamic scoring duo.  One other question that needs to be asked, what is the relationship between Anthony and coach Mike D’Antoni?  It was reportedly anything but good in New York and that could play a big factor in any decision moving forward.

The other direction the team could go in is to use the money on quality role players that would allow them to go into the 2015 offseason with a chance of adding a player like Kevin Love, if he decides to opt out of his respective contract. While there are many options this offseason, Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD wondered if soon-to be free agent Luol Deng would consider the Lakers this offseason and even posed the question to Deng to which he responded:

“When the summer comes, I can probably answer that,” Deng told HOOPSWORLD. “To be honest with you I’ve done my best – I’ve been in a contract situation before when I was young and it affected me. This year, during the summer, I told myself that no matter what, I’m just going to be in the gym working. … I don’t know what it’s like in any other locker room or any other organization — maybe it’s better, maybe it’s not. I have no complaints with how blessed and how lucky I’ve been to be in such an organization for 10 years. Not a lot people could say that. I don’t know if the grass is greener. Maybe it is, but my grass is green enough.”

Deng would be a nice piece to the puzzle for the Lakers and wouldn’t command a max contract on the market. In his career, the Sudan born forward has averaged 16.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg while also playing excellent perimeter defense.  The concern with Deng is his history of injuries over recent seasons although that could help the Lakers in negotiations if it gets to that point.

There will be plenty of names linked to the Lakers over the next two seasons.  As we get closer to the end of the season, the plan for the Lakers to return to relevancy in the NBA will be clearer.   How the Lakers execute the plan will be the interesting part but as we’ve seen in the past, this franchise will find a way.

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Images | Los Angeles Lakers
Source: Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers made a huge statement to its organization and its loyal fan base.

Kobe Bean Bryant will be a Laker for life.

The Lakers officially signed superstar SG Kobe Bryant Monday morning to a 2-year extension worth $48.5 million, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. At $48.5 million, Bryant will receive $23.5 million in 2014-15 and $25 million in 2015-16 from the Lakers. Bryant’s contract gives the Lakers an open shot at signing a free agent to a maximum contract either during this off-season or the next.

“This was easy,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday night. “This wasn’t a negotiation. The Lakers made their offer with cap and building a great team in mind while still taking care of me as a player. I simply agreed to the offer.”

Assuming Bryant fulfills his new contract, he will become the longest tenured player in NBA history to play with a single franchise—playing for 2 decades with the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, Lakers fans have had mixed reactions in regards to Bryant’s new extension. Due to the league’s complex new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), most Lakers fans have difficulties answering the following question;

How does Bryant’s extension affect the Lakers’ cap room and their quest to help Kobe win another championship to tie Michael Jordan’s 6 championships?

Hoopsworld.com columnist Larry Coon and Los Angeles Times Eric Pincus both did a phenomenal job on their columns “A quick update on Kobe’s extension and the Lakers’ cap space” and “What does the Kobe Bryant contract mean to the Lakers’ roster?” These columns are excellent guides on how the Lakers will work with the expected 2014-15 soft salary cap of $62.9 million to build another championship contender.

Using their views, let’s take a look at the Lakers’ current salary cap situation for this off-season.

Lakers’ Current Salary Cap Situation

As Larry Coon noted, the Lakers currently have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre on books for next season, while Elias Harris has a non-guaranteed contract and Nick Young has a player option next season. The Lakers will also have a 1st round draft pick, which would fall to the 15th pick if season ended today at a cap hit of about $1.5 million.

Here is the scenario that Larry Coon gives the Lakers to work with:

“If they remove both [Elias] Harris and [Steve] Nash, their team salary will drop to about $34.44 million, which would give them about $28.46 million in cap room. This would give them the opportunity to sign one maximum-salary player, and a second player at around the mid-level amount. They would also be eligible to utilize the Room Mid-Level exception for around $2.7 million.”

Now, let’s say the Lakers use the Room Mid-Level exception on current SG Jodie Meeks, who is averaging 13.3 PPG and shooting 47.7% from behind the three-point line this season.

Also, lets assume the Lakers re-sign PG Jordan Farmar and F Wesley Johnson to veteran minimum deals.

According to Eric Pincus, “Their cap holds will be just $915,243 next summer…the Lakers can negotiate small (7.5%) raises for each, if both sides are willing — after the team uses its cap room.”

Pincus also mentioned that C Pau Gasol and C/PF Jordan Hill’s cap holds stand at $20.3 million and $6.7 million respectively for this off-season. The Lakers would definitely need to renounce Gasol’s bird rights and possibly Hill’s also to make a legitimate run at a max-contract player. Furthermore, Gasol would need to accept a steep discount, approximately $5.5 million to $8 million per season, to have any chance to rejoin the Lakers under any scenario.

After retaining Bryant, Young, Sacre, Meeks, Johnson, Farmar, and a 1st round pick before the 10-day July moratorium period ends, the Lakers would then maintain up to approximately $26.63 million of cap space to sign free agents this off-season.

Using the facts obtained from Larry Coon’s and Eric Pincus’ columns, let’s see the most plausible route the Lakers can take from here.

Scenario #1: Sign Carmelo Anthony and choose between Pau Gasol or Jordan Hill

Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America
Source: Jeff Gross/Getty Images North America

The Lakers told Bryant they have room to sign one max contract.

After hours of studying the salary cap and analyzing multiple reports, Carmelo Anthony seems to be the one and only max player the Lakers can reasonably sign next summer.

Anthony, a 29-year-old superstar forward for the New York Knicks, is currently in his 11th season in the NBA with career averages of 25.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 3.1 APG. Anthony had a monster 2012-2013 season, scoring a career high of 28.7 PPG and leading the Knicks to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

The Knicks, however, are currently struggling with injuries and a lack of team chemistry, causing them to fall to a dismal 3-10 record to start off this season.

To make things worse for the Knicks, they cannot retool their roster around Anthony as their roster currently stands due to expensive contracts. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, two overpaid players way past their primes, will most likely opt-in for $23.4 million and $11.5 million salary respectively next season. Tyson Chandler also has another year left in his contract, worth $14.6 million next season

According to HoopsRumors.com’s Luke Adams, Anthony can earn a max contract for either $129 million for 5 years with the Knicks, or for 96 million for 4 years with another team, including the Lakers as a free agent this off-season. Anthony could also have a player option after his 3rd season under both potential contracts.

Anthony and Bryant have a very close relationship both on and off the court. Bryant and Anthony built their relationship from being teammates at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, where they both made significant contributions in winning two gold medals. Also, their wives Lala Anthony and Vanessa Bryant have a very close friendship as well.

If Anthony signs with the Lakers at the maximum level, Anthony would most likely earn $22.45 million salary his first season, giving the Lakers an additional $4.18 million to sign other free agents, including Hill and Gasol.

For the Lakers to retain Jordan Hill in that scenario, the Lakers would have to renounce Jordan Hill’s bird rights and re-sign him for the remaining cap space of $4.18 million. At this amount, Gasol would most likely not re-sign, leaving the Lakers with no other choice but to re-sign Hill.

If, however, Anthony somehow decides to take a minor paycut to join the Lakers for about $90 million over 4 years instead, he would earn approximately $21 million his first year, leaving the Lakers with $5.63 million cap room left to spend.

At $5.63 million, the Lakers would potentially have the option to sign either Hill or Gasol. Unfortunately, the new CBA will most likely not allow the Lakers to sign both of the valuable big men, forcing the Lakers’ front office to choose between Hill and Gasol.

Bottom line: signing Carmelo Anthony will give Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers their best chance to make another championship run in the short term. However, the Lakers would have to become very creative with their salary cap space if they have any hopes of re-signing both Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill under this scenario.

Scenario #2: Sign Rudy Gay, Re-Sign Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill

Source: NBAE via Getty Images

In the scenario in which Carmelo Anthony decides to re-sign with the New York Knicks, the Lakers can potentially make an acquisition that would also appease Kobe Bryant.

Rudy Gay, who last season was traded by Memphis Grizzlies to the Toronto Raptors in a multi-team trade, has an opt-out clause in his contract that will allow him become a free agent following this season.

Gay, a 27 year-old NBA veteran, has averaged a solid 18.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG throughout his eight year NBA career. Like Gasol before the Lakers acquired him, Gay has been the best player on his team the majority of his career, despite never making an all-star team. Gay has also shown significant improvement defensively, playing with a lot of hustle and energy on that end lately.

Although the Raptors have a good nucleus of young talent to build around Gay, the Raptors still have little chance to make a run at an NBA Championship.

The Lakers would gain a solid consolation prize in Gay if he opts out after this season.

Gay would most likely not turn down the opportunity to team up with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to make a run at a title, if the Lakers were to offer him a contract. Like Gasol did after he moved from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Lakers, Gay could evolve from being the best player on a mediocre team to an all-star player who contributes to a title-contending team like the Lakers.

If the Lakers sign Gay for the market value for 4 years, he should cost the Lakers only about $15 million per season. Therefore, the Lakers could re-sign both Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol under this scenario.

The Lakers would have approximately $11.63 million cap room to share between Hill and Gasol. If the Lakers can convince Gasol to take a huge paycut for $7 million and Hill to accept $4.63 million salary for the 2014-2015 under a 2 or 3 year contract, the Lakers would definitely upgrade their lineup despite losing out on the biggest prize in Carmelo Anthony.

Scenario #3: Wait for the 2015-16 Free Agent Class

If the the Lakers miss on both Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay, the Lakers should take the same approach this off-season as they did last off-season.

Sign everyone to one-year contracts.

The formula of placing a bandage on the team this season seems to have worked out fairly well—finding diamond in the rough players like Wesley Johnson and SG Xavier Henry.

Rather than overpaying for a player or signing average players to multi-year contracts, the Lakers could build the team around Bryant with eager young players who seek to revitalize their careers under the tutelage of Bryant.

This current Lakers team has shown that they have the heart and energy to compete with any team in the NBA. They have already defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Houston Rockets without Bryant—staying afloat at a respectable 7-7 record.

Through patience and waiting until the 2015-16 free agent class, the Lakers could potential have many potential free agents to choose from.

The 2015-16 free agent class includes Minnesota Timberwolves C/PF Kevin Love and PG Ricky Rubio, Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo and F Jeff Green, Brooklyn Nets C Brook Lopez, and Indiana Pacers C Roy Hibbert.

If the Lakers are forced to take this route, Bryant’s chance at a title for 2014-15 might become the same as this season. However, it will definitely give him the best chance to win if they sign one of those free agents under this scenario.

Bottom Line

The status of Steve Nash determines how much cap room the Lakers have to retool their roster around Kobe Bryant. As mentioned before, the Lakers can either waive Nash or continue supporting him as he attempts to play through nerve damage.

If the Lakers decide to let Nash finish his contract and play next season, the Lakers will not have the cap space to sign Jordan Hill or Pau Gasol under the Carmelo Anthony Scenario, and would have to choose between Hill and Gasol under the Rudy Gay scenario.

Furthermore, Larry Coon explained two additional scenarios in regards to Steve Nash during his interview with Beto Duran and Arash Markazi on ESPN LA Radio’s Mason and Ireland Show, two more possibilities exist in regards to Steve Nash.

If Nash retires, his entire 2014-15 salary would come off the books. Nash and the Lakers would most likely negotiate a buyout after retirement, in which the buyout amount will count against cap, but the Lakers can stretch that cap hit over a three year period.

In the unlikely scenario where Nash retires for medical reasons, the Lakers would receive a full salary cap relief from Nash’s contract while paying him the $9.7 million he is owed for the 2014-2015 season.

Under Scenario #1 and Scenario #2 as previously mentioned, the Lakers will fill the rest of the team with veteran minimum level salary players this off-season, similar to this season. However, the Lakers know how to find talent that have not been utilized to its full potential by other teams. Players such as PF/C DeJuan Blair, C Ryan Hollins, and G/F Brandon Rush are examples of veteran minimum level players who can make a major contribution to the Lakers’ championship run.

Although fans have shown mixed emotions regarding the amount of money Bryant is scheduled to receive on his new extension, we know a few things for a fact:

The Lakers clearly know what they are doing.

Doctors have full confidence that Bryant will return to how he played prior to his devastating Achilles injury.

And finally, the Lakers and Bryant are fully committed to a final NBA championship run.

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The Lakers extending Kobe Bryant’s contract is a lot like asking someone to prom. They are essentially asking this one special person to spend one of the most memorable nights of their lives, or rest of their career, with you. It could either turn out great or be one of the worst nights you have ever had or will have in your life. With that being said, signing Bryant pre-return could either be great or costly moving forward.

If you were following the news yesterday, or in case you missed it, the Lakers signed Kobe Bryant to a two year extension worth $48.5 million dollars. This extension appears to be the first move the Lakers are making in terms of free agency for the summer of 2014. By extending Bryant, the Lakers get to keep the face of the franchise for a couple more seasons while notifying the league and any future free agents that they will have the opportunity to play alongside the future Hall of Famer. That is, if his health allows it.

With Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose now ruled out for the season, fans hope that Bryant will take a more relaxed approach to returning in hopes to prevent a similar situation from occurring. Having watched Kobe Bryant from afar and knowing the type of competitor he is I can assure you that he will return when he is ready and he feels that his body is as well. Not only is Laker Nation hoping that Bryant returns when he is ready but, future free agents also want him to be in order to consider signing for the purple and gold.

Photo Credit: IB Times

Sam Amick of USA Sports spoke to Carmelo Anthony about Bryant’s extension recently. Anthony essentially spoke light to thoughts that are entertaining many free agents’ minds when considering the Lakers. Will Kobe be himself as a teammate of mine?

When asked if free agents like himself would see Bryant as a star who is still worthy of joining in order to contend for a title, Anthony said, “I mean you’ll have to see. It’s hard to gauge at this point, not until he comes back (from his April Achilles tendon tear) and figures some things out. So I don’t know. They might have some plans up their sleeve.”

Looking long term, Bryant’s extension is enough for the Lakers to still look like the prom queen come free agency. Taking the pay cut of almost $10 million dollars provides room to sign a Carmelo Anthony if he opts out, a LeBron James if he does the same, or any other marquee free agents who are looking to win now. Not only will it allow that flexibility, but it also opens the door to retool the bench to its more formidable years. Maybe even keeping active, young players like Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson or Jordan Farmar. Regardless of the what speculation may arise, this move says that the franchise is making a push the last few years of Bryant’s career to win now.

Bryant will retire with the Lakers. As for who he’ll be playing with and the question of whether that team will be worth talking about, that much remains to be seen.

“I think (Bryant) wanted to get that done,” Anthony told USA TODAY Sports. “Especially now, coming off that injury, that he wanted to solidify that (contract). I don’t think he ever had any doubt of leaving the Lakers, so he got that done early…He wants to win. I want to win. Everybody in the league, we want to win, so I just figured he was going to get that done.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I’m not saying that it was the best move for the Lakers to sign Bryant this early, but I will say it provides intrigue if he is or is not able to produce highly. If Bryant is not the same will the Lakers be able to attract those superstar players? Or will they have to settle for players similar to those signed this past off-season?

On the other other hand, if Bryant is healthy and can produce at the level he was pre-injury then the possibilities are endless. With a healthy Bryant, cap space, and the allure of Los Angeles, Mitch Kupchak will have an arsenal ready to reload the Lakers and compete for another title. Yet all of this depends on how healthy Bryant is when he returns to the team.

No matter what does happen, prom just got a lot more interesting.

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Image: CHRIS TROTMAN | GETTY IMAGES

According to ESPNLA.com’s Ramona Shelburne and ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, the Lakers are focusing on rebuilding around the two biggest free agents for 2014 – Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Image: Harry How | Getty Images
Image: Harry How | Getty Images

In accordance with ESPN.com’s Marc Stein’s prediction of a $62.1 million salary cap for the 2014-15 season, the Lakers will theoretically have about $51.5 million in cap space next summer.

Although the reality of pairing James and Anthony together is still a long-shot at this point, the Lakers have made it clear that they plan to try.

The Lakers have positioned themselves into making a realistic run at not just one superstar next summer, but possibly two in the same off-season.

By refusing to commit to any contracts past this upcoming season, the Lakers have maintained maximum flexibility to cash-in on the 2014 free agency frenzy.

A league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN:

“It’s all wishful thinking at this point,” a league source said. “Teams are doing more wishing than LeBron is wanting right now.

“It’s not about where LeBron wants to go [to win]. He already has two rings. If LeBron moved to Reno, teams would come to him.”

James, who has an opt-out clause for next season, has not made it clear as to whether he plans to exercise his opt-out or not.

It seems that James has learned from his previous “decision” by refusing to discuss his future plans until the time comes.

Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images
Image: Jeff Gross | Getty Images

In addition to James, Anthony also has an early termination option in his contract after this next season.

One source close to Anthony’s situation told ESPN:

“It would make sense for him to exercise the early termination option on his contract after next season to become a free agent and secure either a four- or five-year extension.”

Although the Lakers have tons of cap space next season, there is nothing concrete to sell potential free agents on.

As it currently stands, the Lakers do not even have any current marquee players, like they would have had had Dwight Howard re-signed this off-season.

Not even Kobe Bryant, who is in the final year of his contract, is guaranteed to be in the fold after next year.

Bryant has said recently that he plans to play another two or three more seasons, but would need to take a major pay-cut for the Lakers to maintain enough room to purse two max-level free agents.

Bryant, however, recently told ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin that he intends to be involved in the Lakers’ recruiting efforts for 2014:

“It’s an open conversation, via text and also meeting in person and just picking up the phone and calling,” Bryant said of his involvement. “[The Lakers] have kept me in the loop pretty well.”

With Bryant at the head of the recruiting process, it could bode well for the Lakers’ pursuit of Anthony, in particular.

Image: Phil Walter | Getty Images
Image: Phil Walter | Getty Images

Bryant and Anthony developed a close relationship during their time together in the recent Summer Olympics, and have remained friends since.

The two superstars have also discussed potentially playing together in the past.

It should be interesting to see if the Lakers can in fact lure two max-level free agents next summer, in addition to re-signing Bryant at an affordable price.

The Lakers remain poised to do so, however, with Steve Nash ($9.7 million) and Robert Sacre ($915,243) the only players on the books for 2014-15.

According to the ESPNLA.com’s report, the new collective bargaining agreement would allow the Lakers to waive the final year of Nash’s contract, so they could potentially “stretch” his $9.7 million out over three years.

This would mean that only $3.2 million would count against the 2014-15 salary cap, giving the Lakers even more cap flexibility.

As a result of this cap rule, the Lakers could then grant Bryant’s wish and extend his contract for another few seasons at between $10-15 million per season.

Even with Bryant making about $10-15 million per season, the Lakers would still theoretically have enough room to pursue two max-level players.

In addition to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, the 2014 free agency class potentially includes Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut, Dirk Nowitzki, and current Lakers Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, among others.

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