This offseason was supposed to see the Los Angeles Lakers build their roster back up to a level where they were at least respectable in a loaded Western Conference. While nothing substantial has happened outside of the draft, hope is not lost in Hollywood.
Carmelo Anthony is the great prize Los Angeles has its eye on. It seemed a given the seven-time All-Star would return to New York when the Knicks, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, offered him a max contract, though no contract has been signed nearly a week later.
The Lakers, according to Broussard and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, have also offered Anthony a max contract for four years and $97 million. The report also notes that Los Angeles is the biggest threat to New York for the 30-year-old.
In a surprising twist, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the team that most worries the New York Knicks in their attempt to re-sign superstar free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
"A source close to Anthony told the Daily News on Monday that the seven-time All-Star remains 'torn' while deciding between the Knicks, the Lakers and the Bulls," Botte wrote.
The report also notes that Miami could be on Anthony's radar if the Heat are able to re-sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh decides to sign elsewhere.
The Bulls, while they have a great nucleus to build around with Derrick Rose (when healthy) and Joakim Noah, don't have the cap space to match what the Knicks or Lakers can offer Anthony. They can free up $16.8 million in cap commitments by amnestying Carlos Boozer, which Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun- Times reported is practically a "done deal."
According to Spotrac.com, that still leaves the Bulls with only $10 million in cap space, which means the team would have to trade away other assets or hope that the appeal of playing in Chicago is enough to convince Anthony to take substantially less money.
By making the Knicks wait, Anthony forces their hand. He knows they aren't able to do anything substantial this summer because of other salary commitments (Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani, specifically), but Phil Jackson can position New York to make big moves next year.
The Lakers, on the other hand, hold all the cards in this battle of East and West Coast. They offer Anthony a brighter immediate future than New York because playing alongside Kobe Bryant, who figures to be healthy for the first time in more than a year, is better than Stoudemire.
Julius Randle is one of the most promising rookies in this class, possibly being a bargain for the Lakers at No. 7.
There is also the appeal of being the man in Los Angeles after Bryant retires, which one could assume will happen at the end of his two-year deal that expires after the 2015-16 season, and leading the Lakers into the next great era.
You can't discount the possibility that Anthony is just using the Lakers as leverage in negotiations with the Knicks, though if that were the case, he would have already agreed to terms with New York since his max offer is already out there.
Instead, Anthony has clearly taken Los Angeles' offer to heart and understands what the Lakers are capable of doing with a much more stable salary-cap situation to work with. They may not sign him, but the two sides could be closer than anyone would have expected two weeks ago.
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