Kobe Bryant posted “selfies” on Instagram of himself in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday as he vacationed with his family. Soon after, apparently, he boarded a plane to Los Angeles to join in on the Los Angles Lakers’ pitch to free agent forward Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks and is being courted by, among others, the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and the Knicks. The Lakers seem to be a long shot, but with some maneuvering they can have enough cap space to sign the lethal scorer and pair him with Bryant, who is coming off a season in which he played just 13 games because of injuries.
Bryant and Anthony have had a long, close relationship and if anyone could influence Anthony to take a flyer on the struggling Lakers, it’s Bryant. His pitch could be that they’d be a special duo and that when Bryant retires in two years, Anthony would continue the legacy of Hall of Fame talent in purple and gold.
The Lakers have made Anthony and fellow superstar free agent LeBron James their primary points of interest, going so far as to hold off hiring a coach and signing other free agents until they could make pitches to the two players.
While they have called Rich Paul, James’ agent, and were hoping to meet with him soon, sources maintain James and Paul have yet to grant formal meetings to any teams.
Anthony is far from a consolation prize, however. Sources indicate the Lakers are enamored with his game and believe he would complement Bryant well. The Lakers hope to pair the two wings with center Pau Gasol, with whom they met on the first day of free agency.
ESPN reported Wednesday night that the Oklahoma City Thunder duet of stars, Kevin Durant and Michael Westbrook, made a strong case for Gasol to join them. But OKC seems limited on what it could pay Gasol. The Bulls are scheduled to meet with Gasol on Thursday in Los Angeles.
However, the Lakers can pay Gasol more than any other team, and his fondness for the city and playing with Bryant should not be discounted. If the team can add to its roster with Anthony, sources said, Gasol would be far more inclined to re-sign with the Lakers.