Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have added an impact player through the draft, their next step to recapturing glory is playing the free-agent market.
We know the Lakers won't be alone in that regard, especially with two game-changing talents available in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, but they are in a better position than most to play the game however they want.
It sure sounds like that is their intention. According to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, Los Angeles has two plans in place this summer in case the first one doesn't work out:
Lakers' dream is to add LeBron & Melo this summer. If that fails would go for CBosh & Melo, sources say. That's assuming Bosh opts out— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2014
In order for the Lakers to get LeBron, they first have to meet with him, and Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported as of Friday that nothing was scheduled:
Kupchak said Lakers would go "all out" if they got calls to meet with LeBron, Carmelo next week in free agency. Nothing scheduled yet, tho.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) June 27, 2014
As for Anthony, the Lakers certainly have their sights set on him. Broussard noted in a separate piece on ESPN.com that they aren't on his list of preferred destinations right now, but Los Angeles' biggest star is planning a sales pitch:
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.
Let's take LeBron out of the equation, because a pairing of him and Bryant seems about as toxic as the Bryant-Dwight Howard pairing two years ago.
Instead, let's look at the situation where the Lakers go after Anthony and, assuming he opts out of his deal, Chris Bosh.
We know that money won't be a problem for Los Angeles, which currently has four players under contract at a total of $34.1 million, according to HoopsHype.com. That gives the team approximately $29 million in salary cap space.
Looking on the court, Bosh and Anthony are perfect complements to Bryant. Neither player needs to control the ball to have success. Anthony did it in New York because he was constantly asked to run isolation plays, but he would be even more effective running an actual offense.
As for Bosh, who has until June 30 to decide on opting out, he's actually regressed playing with LeBron for four years. His points per game have decreased each year in Miami, going from 18.7 per game in 2010-11 to 16.2 last season.
What's the Lakers' best course of action?
He also turned into a player who stands around waiting for the ball and shooting away from the basket, as evidenced by the fact the 30-year-old nearly tripled his previous career high in three-point attempts last season (218, previous high was 74 the year before).
Playing with Bryant, who is getting older and won't be able to do the same things he could five years ago, will allow Bosh to start playing inside more often to make use of the size and length that made him so effective inside with Toronto and early in his Miami tenure.
The Lakers would reap the rewards of adding two top-tier talents who are still in their prime, while at the same time being able to develop the high-ceiling talent that Julius Randle possesses.
Signing Anthony and Bosh would give the Lakers much-needed ammunition to compete in the Western Conference in Bryant's final years, as well as provide the necessary bridge to the Randle era that won't officially begin until No. 8 hangs up his sneakers.
Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak have botched things with this roster for so long that drastic measures have to be taken for the Lakers to be a factor. All of those bad moves have been building toward this summer, where they have money to use and talent worthy of it.
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