Lakers Rumors: Carmelo Anthony a Poor Fit as Potential 2014 Free Agency Target

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers talk during the first half at Staples Center on December 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After they missed out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes in free agency this year, all eyes are already on the Los Angeles Lakers as one of the biggest players in the 2014 free-agency period. 

With one of the NBA's highest payrolls, at $83 million towards the cap, according to Spotrac, Los Angeles doesn't have much cap flexibility for this year's class. But with Steve Nash representing the only guaranteed contract for next season, the Lakers will have all the cap space they could possibly ask for.

Of course the ideal situation for Lakers Nation would be to use that cap space to lure LeBron James from his throne in Miami—a scenario that seems like a long shot. 

If that doesn't work, it appears that Carmelo Anthony could be option No. 2, as Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times speculates. 

The Anthony-to-the-Lakers chatter isn't just speculation though. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reports via Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles that the odds are "50-50" that the Knicks star decides to leave New York for Los Angeles next season:

After missing out on a potential building block for years to come in Howard, the potential for the league's scoring champion donning the purple and gold has to sound so appealing. But bringing in the star forward may not be as great a move as anticipated. 

Here's why. 

Not Enough Touches for Kobe and Carmelo

As great as the combination of Kobe Bryant (27.3 points per game) and Carmelo Anthony (28.7 points per game) would appear to be on paper, there are serious questions as to whether it would actually work in the context of an offense. 

Both are prolific scorers, but both need the ball in their hands to succeed. 

Accoridng to ESPN's advanced statistics (insider subscription required), Anthony (32.2) was No. 1 and Bryant (30.0) was No. 3 in the league when it came to usage rate. That means that both are going to require plenty of touches to be successful. 

The way their current teams are configured, they don't have to worry about sharing the ball with another excellent scorer. 

To be fair, Bryant became a much better facilitator for the Lakers as last season progressed, but that still meant that he had the ball. 

When LeBron James paired up with Dwyane Wade in Miami, there was a similar issue. Wade and James were Nos. 1 and 2 when James was in Cleveland and Wade was in Miami. The pairing eventually figured out a way to co-exist, but the process wasn't fast or easy. 

It's not guaranteed that Kobe and Carmelo would find a way to make the pairing work. 

Carmelo No Spring Chicken 

It's important to remember that it's the Lakers' willingness to give hefty contracts to veterans that has them in the position they are currently in.

Kobe Bryant even admitted that the Lakers' age was a reason for a lack of energy on the floor sometimes. Pau Gasol, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake are all players well into their 30s who played major minutes last season. 

While Anthony isn't an old man quite yet, he will be 30 by the time he hits free agency. If the four-year, $100.5 million projected offer from Pincus' article stands, that means that the Lakers would be paying a 34-year-old Anthony the maximum in the final year of the contract. 

For a player that hasn't played more than 70 games since 2007-08, that's a risky wager that could come back to bite the Lake Show. 

The Money Will Go Fast

As anyone that has ever had money ever will tell you, it always goes much faster than you anticipate. 

Just having one salary on the books in 2014 seems like a ton of cap space—and it is—but it also means that they have 14 roster spots to fill, one of which will need to go to one Kobe Bryant. And those hoping that Bryant would take a huge pay cut to free up space to pursue a "Big Three" will be sorely disappointed. 

Bryant recently told LakersNation that he's not interested in taking a pay cut to rejoin the team in 2014:

“I’m not taking any at all – that’s the negotiation that you have to have.” Kobe Bryant told Lakers Nation  in an exclusive interview at his Kobe Basketball Academy on Wednesday. “For me to sit here and say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m just going to take a huge pay cut. Nah, I’m going to try to get as much as I possibly can.”

That means that the Lakers would have to offer him something close to the max to get him to remain a Laker. Assuming that's somewhere around $20 million, the Lakers could have over $40 million tied up in Kobe and Carmelo—talk about spending all of your money in one place. 

Considering that Anthony has been to the conference-championship round only once in his career, it's a huge sum of money to give to a player that doesn't guarantee a revival in Los Angeles. 


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