Lakers’ pitch makes a ‘strong impression’ on free agent ahead of decision.
The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made the biggest impression on Carmelo Anthony and are now considered the biggest threat to the New York Knicks, ESPN reports.
After pitching the idea of playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and rookie Julius Randle, along with the fact that the Lakers have no long-term salary commitments, it is understood that the franchise has made a “serious impression” on Anthony as he makes his decision this weekend.
In addition, it is reported that the Lakers have met with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, and the two-time NBA champion is giving consideration to their offer having opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat last week.
James has reportedly demanded a max contract from the Heat, and it remains to be seen whether or not team president Pat Riley is able to give him what he wants whilst also bringing back Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and building a strong roster around them.
However, with tension seemingly building in Miami, it is thought that the 29-year-old is now interested in listening to pitches with the possibility that he and Anthony could both move to Los Angeles if each was willing to play for around $16m per season.
It had previously been reported that the Chicago Bulls were the favourites to convince Anthony to leave New York behind, given the fact that the 30-year-old would be joining a team ready to contend with the likes of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson forming a formidable starting line-up.
However, the Bulls have begun to assess their options as they step up their pursuit of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, but the former is said to be a firm part of the Lakers’ plan in bringing Anthony to the Staples Center.
Anthony is expected to make his decision next week and it is likely that his choice of team will have a knock-on effect all around the league with teams reassessing their options and looking elsewhere.
While he has previously insisted that he would be willing to take a pay cut with the Knicks to help Phil Jackson in the rebuilding process, he also claimed that it would be particularly difficult to uproot his family who are settled in the city.
However, as he lives and trains in Los Angeles during the summer, it remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers really are a solid option for him, given that many believe a move to the Western Conference would be difficult due to its competitive nature.
The Heat, Bulls and Indiana Pacers are arguably the three front-runners in the East, and with Anthony emphasising his desire to compete immediately, the Lakers would go against what he has previously suggested.
Nevertheless, after averaging 27.4 points per game last season despite a disappointing campaign for the Knicks as a whole, whichever team Anthony decides to sign with will become an immediate threat to those around them.