The Los Angeles Lakers wasted no time throwing their considerable weight around as soon as the 2014 NBA free-agency period began. With a number of star players readily available this summer, this glamorous franchise will be looking to quickly erase the bitter feelings lingering after its disastrous 2013-14 campaign.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak will have to do his best to sell prospective players on the idea of plying their trade on a Los Angeles team that currently has a bare-bones roster and features two aging stars in Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Then again, he can always focus on the allure and prestige of playing in the nation's second-largest media market for a team that has won 16 NBA championships.
Here is the latest on three players who could be playing in purple and gold next season.
Lakers Likely Set for a Meeting with Carmelo Anthony
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers are likely due to sit down with Carmelo Anthony on Thursday:
Teams will be fighting tooth and nail to land Anthony and his career average of 25.3 points per game this summer. Anthony's myriad scoring abilities are sorely needed by franchises like the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls.
Anthony has yet to win an NBA championship and could be looking for a situation that offers an opportunity to take the Larry O'Brien Trophy. If Kupchak's recent comments are any indication, Bryant is still a major part of his championship sell.
"We're still going to pitch that this is a championship franchise and that's going to be our goal," Kupchak said, via the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan. "As long as Kobe [Bryant] is on this team, we have to believe that we can contend for a championship."
A championship in Los Angeles might be a difficult idea for Anthony to process without a head coach in place. However, as USA Today's Sam Amick put it before the NBA draft, that is part of the Lakers' strategy:
As the Lakers see it, it's not a necessity to have a coach in time for the June 26 draft, in which they'll pick seventh overall. And while they're not willing to let a star player pick the coach, keeping the vacancy open would allow any possible players who sign with them to offer some input into the process.
The Lakers are a tempting destination for the likes of Anthony, but they may find it difficult to recruit players of his caliber with so much of their personnel situation in limbo. The Bulls have a strong head coach in Tom Thibodeau and young stars in Derrick Rose (albeit still an injury concern) and Joakim Noah to lure in the big names on the market.
Is Lowry Considering a Lakers Sit-Down?
CBS Sports' Ken Berg reports that point guard Kyle Lowry is mulling his options and could meet with the Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers would definitely have to sell Lowry on the long-term potential of the franchise and not on the next year or so, unless they can promise another high-caliber free agent is coming in.
It might be difficult for Lowry to see where he fits on this team. The Lakers currently have Nash on the books for next season as well as a team option for point guard Kendall Marshall.
The team could feasibly still decline Marshall's option, but as Lakers Nation's Serena Winters notes, the team is including him on its Summer League roster:
This means Marshall and his cheap contract could easily figure into the Lakers' future plans.
Neither one of those players can match the 17.9 points and 7.4 assists per game Lowry averaged in 2013-14. He just turned 28 and should be hitting his peak years as an NBA player, which means the Lakers would have to be confident that the soft-bellied Lowry can remain a viable option into his early 30s for him to fit into their long-term plans.
Likewise, Lowry would need to trust the Lakers can build a team around him at point guard. If Kupchak can get Lowry's attention, he would prove to be vital component for a strong foundation in Lakerland.
Kent Bazemore Generating Interest
Kent Bazemore was known more for his hilarious antics on the bench with the Golden State Warriors than for any particular set of skills on the court. His midseason move to the Lakers last year did wonders for his numbers.
|Kent Bazemore NBA Career Statistics|
|ESPN.com, all stats per game|
Bazemore got a big boost playing in former coach Mike D'Antoni's high-paced offense and demonstrated that he deserves some more time on the hardwood.
According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, the Lakers could be interested in bringing Bazemore back into the fold, but they will have to fend off a number of other suitors to do so:
The Lakers might not want to get into a bidding war for Bazemore if they are to keep cap space clear for big-name free agents. Bazemore's last deal was a two-year contract worth $1.2 million, per Spotrac.com. If the Lakers can hold on to him for a similar price, he could again be a solid, left-handed option off the bench for the team.