Ranking Los Angeles Lakers' Most Believable Free-Agency Rumors

Bryant Knox@@BryantKnoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

Ranking Los Angeles Lakers' Most Believable Free-Agency Rumors

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    Where will Pau Gasol sign during the NBA's 2014 free-agency period?
    Where will Pau Gasol sign during the NBA's 2014 free-agency period?USA TODAY Sports

    Rumor season is upon us, and while the Los Angeles Lakers are as polarizing as any team in the NBA, free agency has been relatively quiet for the group from Tinseltown. 

    The reason for this, as B/R's Kevin Ding told Adam Lefkoe in March, is that "they're going to hold off until 2015 free agency, in all likelihood [...]." Recent developments have potentially changed that narrative—but more on that later.

    As for now, the Lakers aren't getting too deeply involved in the free-agent circus. There's plenty of chatter around the Association to pique fans' interests, but with a potentially quiet summer ahead, the start to July has brought a few rumors worth considering—and a whole lot worth putting to bed early.

    *All rumors are current as of July 4 at 2:00 a.m. ET.

5. Los Angeles Lakers to Meet with LeBon James?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    According to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne (h/t ESPN.com's Chris Broussard), the Los Angeles Lakers have taken their interest in LeBron James one step further, planning a meeting between the two sides in Cleveland.

    Typically, where there's smoke, there's fire. However, this one sounds like a desperate shot at the ultimate pipe dream.

    Despite the fact that the Lakers have had interest in James for years, there's no reason to believe they're front-runners when it comes to James' free agency. According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, the 29-year-old has already made it clear he wants max money, and while the Lakers have plenty of coin to offer, there's no substantial evidence pointing to James leaving South Beach for L.A.

    James could very well shock us all, pulling a decision out of his hat that spurns the Miami Heat, while heading to a roster across the Association. Then again, this is far from a practical move for James, considering potential roster structure, short term projections and, of course, taxes.

4. Carmelo Anthony to L.A.?

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Remember how we said we'd have more on a potential narrative switch soon? Well, Carmelo Anthony is the reason why.

    The Los Angeles Lakers met with Melo on Thursday, July 3, and while there's no indication that the meeting swayed the superstar one way or the other, we do know that L.A. is on the prowl.

    Despite having no intention of signing a star back in March, according to Kevin Ding's report from earlier, Los Angeles has every intention of signing Anthony to a maximum contract. That report comes courtesy of ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, and it's emblematic of the fact that Mitch Kupchak isn't willing to sit and wait while big-time players sign elsewhere in free agency.

    The problem? It seems like a long shot that Anthony actually accepts the deal. According to USA Today's Sam Amick:

    One front office executive whose team is among the five in the running for Anthony (Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Lakers) is currently of the belief Anthony will choose between the Knicks, Bulls or Rockets.

    This doesn't bode well for a rebuilding Los Angeles, which is why we'll likely have to wait until 2015 for a real opportunity for the Lakers to add significant talent.

3. Los Angeles in Caron Butler's Top 3?

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When it comes to players other than Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, there are plenty of names to consider. Unfortunately, guys such as Jodie Meeks and Chris Kaman are already gone (Kaman signed with the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski), and Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry are potential targets for numerous organizations.

    One player, however—someone who didn't even play for L.A. last year—is on Mitch Kupchak's radar, and it's someone who's played a single season for L.A. during the 2004-05 season.

    Caron Butler could be back in Los Angeles, via Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. The Lakers, however, will have to compete against the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, according to the Amick report.

    Amick suggested: "The Lakers, who have a Thursday meeting with Carmelo Anthony, are waiting on the big-name free agents just like everyone else before deciding how to fill in the personnel pieces from there."

    Assuming LeBron and Carmelo are out, Butler could become the temporary solution the Lakers are looking for.

2. Los Angeles Lakers Are Nick Young's "First Choice"

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Back in June, when Nick Young opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, it was reported by Mike Medina of InsideSocal.com that L.A. was Swaggy P's "first choice." According to Medina, Young stated, "Just more years. I believe I deserve more."

    Following the 2013-14 season, Young is probably right. He was one of the main attractions for the Lakers night in and night out. While he was starring on a dilapidated roster, his production was good enough for 17.9 points per game, while shooting 38.6 percent from behind the arc.

    At this point in the free-agent process, L.A. isn't the only team interested in Young's services. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, "Nick Young heard from Atlanta along with the Lakers, as well as 'several other teams registering interest,' according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein."

    Where Swaggy lands is up in the air, but if he's willing to take a hometown discount, it could be right back with the organization that acquired him last summer. This isn't exactly a match made in basketball heaven, with Kobe Bryant returning at the 2, but it's something fans can rally around, as he becomes someone to follow on a nightly basis.

1. No Decision Soon from Pau Gasol?

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    Bart Young/Getty Images

    If there's any rumor to believe at this juncture, it's that the Pau Gasol decision will take some time. That has been the theme the past few seasons, and it continues to haunt Los Angeles Lakers fans even when he's technically no longer under contract.

    According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, "Source says there will be 'no decision soon' from Pau Gasol about where to sign, despite Carmelo, team entreaties." That's fitting with how the past season went, as it's seemed for a long time that Gasol would move on; although it's been an incredibly slow process. 

    Despite the indecision from Gasol, there's plenty of smoke regarding the big man. ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne have reported that both the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder have expressed interest in the Spaniard, and according to the same report, the Thunder have "unexpectedly emerged as a leading contender" to sign the big man.

    Then, of course, there's the Miami Heat, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. And you can't forget the New York Knicks, via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.

    Don't disregard, either, the fact that Gasol could return to L.A. if Melo defects the Big Apple for the City of Angels. This story isn't going away quickly, and it's one to keep an eye on as free agency progresses.