Lakers likely to target solo pursuit of Anthony and drop interest in James.
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly open to the possibility of Pau Gasol returning next season and will use it as a way of persuading Carmelo Anthony to join the franchise.
While the initial ideal scenario for the Lakers was to sign both Anthony and LeBron James this summer, it is understood that they are not ruling out the return of the four-time All Star and two-time NBA champion, as reported by ESPN.
As it becomes less likely that James and Anthony are pursuing a mutual destination as a package deal, the Lakers are said to be focusing their attention on Anthony whilst dropping their interest in James which would give them flexibility to bring back Gasol.
James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem have all now decided to opt out of their contracts with the Heat, but it is widely believed that it will be part of a bigger strategy to allow Miami more financial flexibility to strengthen the roster.
Meanwhile, the Spaniard has had a difficult time with the Lakers over the past two years, with injuries as well as disagreements with former coach Mike D’Antoni ensuring that his production fell as doubts grew over his long-term future at the Staples Center.
Gasol averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, but despite missing 22 games because of a variety of injuries, it had coincidentally been reported that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, now president of the Knicks, had planned to go after Gasol in the hope of convincing Anthony to stay.
Nevertheless, the Lakers star has revealed that his decision will be based purely on sporting considerations and that he wants to play for a team with a genuine opportunity to win a championship with financial considerations now playing a less role in his thinking at this stage of his career.
The Lakers drafted power forward Julius Randle out of Kentucky on Thursday night with the No.7 overall pick, and the front office reportedly believe that the prospect will have no problem forming a front-court partnership with Gasol at center.