That starts with one of the most intriguing offseasons in recent NBA history, as a number of the game's best players are available through trade or free agency. Throw in the loaded 2014 draft class, and the entire landscape of the league could look different next season.
Where will the Lakers fit in that puzzle?
With that in mind, take a look at some of the latest rumblings from Los Angeles on the Lakers' front.
Klay Thompson Reportedly Not Heading to LA
The Golden State Warriors have been active players in the Kevin Love market all offseason, but it may require getting creative through trades. Perhaps Los Angeles could be a third team in that swap?
ESPN's Chris Broussard let fans know that Klay Thompson probably isn't heading to Los Angeles or Minnesota anytime soon regardless of whether there is a trade:
Source: No way GState trading Klay Thompson to Minnesota or the Lakers.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 23, 2014
Thompson would be an intriguing option for the Lakers because he is versatile enough to play either shooting guard or small forward next to Kobe Bryant. If his time next to Stephen Curry is any indication, Thompson is also an unselfish superstar who likely wouldn't mind playing next to Bryant.
If nothing else, Thompson is one of the league's best three-point shooters who will drill open looks when opposing defenses collapse on Bryant. Alas, it may just be a pipe dream at this point.
Carmelo Anthony Hollywood-Bound?
Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com passed along some of the latest info on the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes:
The Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to him starting July 1, according to sources close to the situation.
Los Angeles is in an ideal situation because it has enough salary-cap flexibility to make a max offer to the Syracuse product. However, the report discusses how Anthony would prefer the Lakers strengthen their roster if he was to consider them, which makes sense because this could be his last chance to seriously contend for a title as an NBA star.
Whether that means trading the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft and the expiring contract of Steve Nash for different pieces remains to be seen, but the Lakers need more than just Anthony and an aging Bryant if they plan on emerging from a loaded Western Conference.
Anthony's agent, Leon Rose, at least provided some hope for New York Knicks fans in this situation, via Shelburne and Stein: "Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and he loves the fans. At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."
Will He Bring a Friend?
It seems like the Lakers are at least in the running for Anthony, but Brian Windhorst, Shelburne and Stein of ESPN.com pointed out that it could be even more than just the Knicks superstar:
With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony officially opting out of their contracts, multiple teams have begun the process of exploring roster moves that would create sufficient salary-cap space to sign 2014's marquee free agents in tandem this summer, according to sources close to the situation.
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, had begun exploring such machinations even before the opt outs of James and Anthony had become known according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.
The Lakers have been trying in recent days to package the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's draft with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (who's owed $9.7 million next season) to free up enough room to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million each next season to join forces with Kobe Bryant, Shelburne reported.
It almost seems unfair for the rest of the league imagining a team with James and Anthony in their respective primes. The two are on record as being friends, and it only seems natural that they would at least entertain the notion of playing together next season.
Still, there is only one ball to go around, and James, Anthony and Bryant would be an interesting mix. James is one of the best passers in the league, so it may not be an issue with him, but Bryant and Anthony are both high-volume shooters who would have to settle into different roles together.
A Larry O'Brien Trophy would make the new roles more than worth it.
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