The wait is finally over. Carmelo Anthony has made his decision to return to the New York Knicks on a five-year, $129 million contract. Anthony and LeBron James virtually froze the free agent market by keeping teams in limbo over their decisions regarding where they would play next season. Along with the incumbent Knicks, one team that was held hostage until a decision had been made was the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers met with Anthony at the team’s practice facility to make their case as to why he should join his close friend Kobe Bryant in purple and gold. The pitch made by the team covered all basis. Team executives Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss discussed the basketball side of his decision in terms of the Lakers plans moving forward while Jeanie Buss and Tim Harris talked about the business aspect of the franchise.
James Worthy also spoke at the meeting and it was rumored that Magic Johnson gave his input via phone call. The rendezvous also included representatives of Anschutz Entertainment Group and Time Warner Cable discussing the impact of the Los Angeles market. It didn’t end there though, as movie producer Joel Silver created a short movie trailer of Anthony’s life that was narrated by none other than Spider-Man himself — Tobey Maguire.
It is also widely believed that Bryant had been in constant contact with Anthony in an attempt to recruit him. In the end, it wasn’t enough to convince the perennial All-Star to sign with the Lakers in a timely manner, forcing the team to move on.
With Anthony passing on the Lakers’ four-year, $97 million offer, the team is able to retain their financial flexibility, thus giving them a multitude of options. After swinging for the fences and striking out with Anthony and likely James as well, it is time to initiate Plan B.
Like always, Los Angeles has been a major player in the rumor mill ever since the clock struck 12:01 AM Eastern Time on July 1. Previously linked to a plethora of names that included Lance Stephenson, Trevor Ariza, Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe, among others, the Lakers elected to spend the majority of their cap space on their own players in Jordan Hill and Nick Young. They also took on the salary of Jeremy Lin in a trade with Houston that also landed L.A. the Rockets’ 2015 first-round pick along with future draft considerations.
In doing so, the team is still able to preserve an immense amount of cap space for next summer, especially if they don’t pick up their team option on Hill after this season. Kevin Love, along with several All-Star caliber players could be free agents next summer while Kevin Durant could end up headlining the 2016 group.
Carmelo Anthony And Pau Gasol Pass On The Los Angeles Lakers