Kobe Bryant can't save the Los Angeles Lakers.
We're past the point where the legend puts the team on his back and does the dirty work. He saw time in just six games last season in what turned out to be the worst in franchise history, although it did net the team Kentucky star Julius Randle to build around.
Bryant's inability to do it on his own would explain why general manager Mitch Kupchak seems so willing to go all-in this offseason to reconstruct one of the league's worst rosters. With names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and more on the market, the rumblings surrounding the organization are endless.
Let's catch up on the latest.
Lakers Covet Chris Bosh
Of the Big Three that opted out of their contracts with the Miami Heat this offseason, it is Bosh who is most often suggested as the superstar to actually not re-up with the team.
Why? Bosh is the player unlikely to get a max contract and the third wheel in terms of importance in the eyes of the front office down in Florida, at least in theory. The Lakers understand this and apparently have interest in luring him to the West Coast, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin:
Bosh is quite the pricey endeavor for a team that just drafted a young power forward to build around, but at the same time, he is a great veteran addition that both helps the Lakers win now and build for the future in the way he can mentor what should be a relatively young roster, sans Bryant.
At 30 years old, Bosh appears to be on the decline when one peruses his numbers, although this may simply be the result of playing with two other superstars:
Provided the front office is in win-now mode and cannot draw bigger names on prestige alone, Bosh represents perhaps the best it can do at this juncture. That said, reeling in Bosh first may be a precursor to other superstars following suit.
Still, it's hard to imagine the Big Three wind up anywhere other than Miami. Kupchak better have one heck of a sales pitch.
Meeting With Carmelo Anthony Secured
That goes double for Kupchak's meeting with one Carmelo Anthony, as noted by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:
While that meeting is in the books for now (it's subject to change if he elects to cancel or sign somewhere else), Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times explains that the front office has been on the phone with other big names, too:
For now, let's dial in on the possibility of Anthony in Los Angeles.
Per ESPN's Marc Stein, Anthony also has meetings lined up with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. Each franchise has a star—Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki (assuming he re-ups), respectively—that Anthony can pair with for years to come.
One would think this disqualifies the Lakers right off the bat, especially given the order of the meetings. Bryant is going on 36 years old and the roster is in shambles, so much of Anthony's willingness to leave one crumbling franchise for another would rely on Kupchak reeling in a duo of stars.
With that in mind, perhaps the next item is of some interest.
Pau Gasol, the Secret Weapon?
Pau Gasol might just be the answer to reeling in Anthony.
At least, that seems to be the thought process in the Lakers' front office, per McMenamin:
In fact, should it appear that James and Anthony are not pursuing a mutual destination as a package deal -- especially with Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh opting out of their deals with the Miami Heat -- the Lakers believe that having Gasol back on the team could be vital in their solo pursuit of Anthony.
It's an interesting angle to take, to say the least. Gasol remains one of the best big men in the NBA on the offensive end of the court, but at 33 years old and coming off a season in which he missed 22 games and posted averages of 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, there is enough to suggest that his prime has since passed.
All of this simply assumes Gasol will be back with the Lakers, too. Kupchak understands this:
It's going to depend. Pau and I spoke a lot during the season, a lot during the postseason. And we let him become a free agent. And I know it's something that he's looking forward to. He loves Los Angeles and he'd love to stay here. He'd love to continue to win, but it is a pretty active marketplace. Or it will be. And he's going to have some options that are probably pretty good. We're going to have to sort through our challenges and there are scenarios where Pau would be back and we'd pursue him. And there are scenarios that he wouldn't be back or that he chooses to go someplace else.
There is no way to know what Gasol's market looks like at this point in time, but his willingness to return with another superstar in tow is not all that outlandish. He clearly wants to contend for titles over the course of his last few years, and the Lakers would surely do that with a Bryant-Anthony-Gasol trio.
Is an aging Gasol enough to lure Anthony? Or will the veteran star remember a similar scenario with an aging Amar'e Stoudemire and how that turned out for his title aspirations?
Given the fact that market means little in the pursuit of Anthony and the fact he may have reservations about playing with someone like Bryant, who shares a similar playing style, it may take more than just Gasol to have him land in Los Angeles.
Then again, crazier things happen in the NBA on a yearly basis.
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