Per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, Kupchak didn't specifically name Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, but it was clear whom he was referring to when he said: "We're prepared. If any of those players do want to make a move, we're prepared. And if we get word, when we're allowed to get word, we will go all out."
With an estimated $30 million in cap room to approach James, Anthony and others this summer, the Lakers are poised to make a quick return to prominence. The team missed the playoffs last season for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign and just the second time in 38 years.
The Miami Heat and New York Knicks have more money and years to throw at James and Anthony, respectively, but the winning tradition and commitment to go after a championship every season that the Lakers champion on a perennial basis is unrivaled.
Because James and Anthony both realize they will need to take pay cuts to allow their team the flexibility to get better players around them, the extra money they could potentially receive from each of their most recent teams may not be as big of a deal.
Playing for an organization that will always be in a win-now mode is invaluable to a player who places championships at the top of their priority list.
James and Anthony both seem to be of that mindset.
Is this too big of a dream, even for a franchise like the Lakers? Ethan Norof of Bleacher Report acknowledges that the Lakers have best opportunity to pair the two biggest free-agent prizes together, but he also calls it a long shot:
#Lakers have best shot at pairing LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony together, an indication of how unlikely it is they wind up on same roster.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) June 25, 2014
I do not believe #Lakers will get Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James, let alone both, but team has more flexibility around Kobe than believed.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) June 25, 2014
It should be noted that Anthony has not yet acknowledged that he'll even listen to the Lakers' pitch. ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks would all get a visit from Melo.
The Lakers will have to find an inroad to be added to his list of potential suitors. Per Broussard, Anthony's former Team USA teammate Kobe Bryant is willing to reach out to Melo in the team's recruiting efforts.
Perhaps that can be the spark to ignite real talks.
Acquiring James might be more complicated. He's already won two championships with the Heat and has been to the last four NBA Finals. He also has a bond with current teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well as head coach Erik Spoelstra and general manager Pat Riley. Prying him away from South Beach will be very hard for any team.
In any case, the Lakers have put themselves in optimal position for a quick return to the spotlight and championship glory. Now, they just need to nab the big fish.
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