After the opening of the free-agency period, the entire NBA world has been buzzing about the possibilities for every potential franchise player.
Names like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are of course the most notable ones out there, but several others just outside the top tier could make it interesting. Whether it's Lance Stephenson or Isaiah Thomas, two emerging guards, either might be a great fit for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following a disappointing season that led to a lottery selection, the Lakers have already added a prospect for the future in Julius Randle. With their plans likely focused on righting the ship as soon as possible, the Lakers have been rumored to be looking at several different free agents this summer.
Here's a look at the latest rumors surrounding the franchise and analysis for each player.
Lakers Looking to Make Strong Pitch to Carmelo Anthony
Anthony is one of the biggest names on the market and he's making the most of it.
The free-agent forward is rumored to be meeting with multiple different franchises this week, with the Lakers set for a Thursday slot. Following a meeting with Pau Gasol to discuss his future, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com notes the latest on Anthony and the Lakers:
Consider the meeting [with Gasol] a warm-up for the face-to-face sit-down the team has scheduled for Thursday with Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles.
The Anthony pitch will be spearheaded by Lakers president Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and Kupchak, according to a source with knowledge of the Lakers' plan.
McMenamin goes on to say that Jeanie Buss will be present for the meeting, a stark change from last year's discussions with Dwight Howard. With the hope that they can sell Anthony on the future of the franchise, the Lakers have aspirations of adding the dynamic scorer this summer.
Another source in the report told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com that "we have a good story to tell and the best platform in sports." Needless to say, L.A. appears confident that it can woo him away from other franchises reportedly looking to add him, such as the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
Anthony would make a perfect fit for the Lakers as they look to rebuild after a horrid 2013-14 season. With his talents as a shooter at the small forward position, Anthony would allow Randle to flourish down low and take some of the pressure off a healthy Kobe Bryant.
Lakers fans will surely be watching the situation closely as he could be a potential franchise-changing player for the future, both in the short and long term.
Lance Stephenson Being Courted by Lakers
Following all of the antics and buffoonery, Stephenson is still a great player on the court. Though the Indiana Pacers clearly wanted to keep him with the franchise for the future, he might have other plans.
Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine notes that the Pacers "offered a five-year, $44 million contract to Stephenson, but sources said the versatile shooting guard believes he's worth much more." One team's loss might be another's gain if the Pacers can't come to an agreement.
This is where the Lakers come in. Los Angeles reportedly are one of a few teams to contact Stephenson's agent, as Broussard notes:
Several clubs have reached out to Stephenson's agent, Alberto Ebanks, to register their interest, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, according to sources. [...]
While money is a factor, Stephenson will not simply go to the highest bidder, sources said. He wants to go to a team that is either a contender or a competitive up-and-coming club.
Coming off a year where he averaged career highs with 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists, Stephenson clearly won't come cheap. But with the Lakers seeing opportunity to build with Stephenson at the guard position, they might have a young, rising star to help lead their offense for the future.
Los Angeles Interested in Isaiah Thomas
Stephenson might not be the only young guard on the Lakers' radar this summer.
Yet another player coming off a career year is Isaiah Thomas. The 25-year-old led the Sacramento Kings in assists (6.3) and was second only to DeMarcus Cousins in points (20.3) per game during the 2013-14 season.
That might be just enough to convince the Lakers that they should potentially bring the young point guard in, as Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com notes:
Sources: Isaiah Thomas has interest from Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Mavericks, Pistons & Suns. Warriors are out after the Shaun Livingston deal.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) July 2, 2014
Though he's slightly older than Stephenson (who is 23), the former Washington Huskies star has emerged as a point guard with a great shooting touch and one that can score at will. For a team in Los Angeles that needs to find offense quickly after last season, Thomas' numbers might be more enticing.
Thomas, like Stephenson, could make a huge difference for the Lakers next season. And without all the baggage that comes along with Stephenson, Thomas might be the better option.
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