While the 2013-14 season could be a struggle with center Dwight Howard now in Houston and star guard Kobe Bryant working his way back from an Achilles injury, the Los Angeles Lakers may not be downtrodden for long if their reported plans come to fruition next offseason.
Both Anthony and James have the option to terminate their contracts following the 2013-14 season to become free agents. It is unknown whether either or both players are considering doing so, but there is no question that they would be the two biggest prizes on the market.
Anthony and James would obviously be in line for max-level contracts, so the Lakers would probably have to do quite a bit of maneuvering to get deals done. According to Shelburne and Windhorst's sources, there are conflicting opinions regarding whether the Lakers will have a realistic shot at landing either.
James' potential free agency has been a major topic of conversation since he has already won two titles and can afford to go wherever he wants. According to Shelburne and Windhorst, though, a league source believes that LeBron is far from reaching a decision:
It's all wishful thinking at this point, a league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN. 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.
As for Carmelo, Shelburne and Windhorst are reporting that a termination of his contract is even more likely than James as he could then seek a four- or five-year deal.
Since Kobe is scheduled to make $30.5 million this year, he would almost certainly have to take a pay cut for the Lakers to haul in such a sizable bounty. While Bryant doesn't appear interested in taking a pay cut, his comments suggest that he wouldn't rule it out if the right situation were to come along.
"As a businessman the goal is always to not take a pay cut," Bryant said. "But ..."
Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles believes that Bryant would be a key figure in getting LeBron, Carmelo or both to sign in L.A., as he loved playing alongside them in the Olympics.
James and Anthony are two of the league's most decorated players as they have 15 All-Star appearances between them as well as two scoring championships. By himself, LeBron is already a four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP, so if they were to join forces with Kobe, it would arguably give the Lakers the most dominant triumvirate in NBA history.
There is obviously a lot of basketball to be played between now and then, but it's fun to think about what could potentially happen during the wild offseason of 2014.
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