After one of their worst seasons in decades, the Los Angeles Lakers are in desperate need of a makeover and a head coach. But, first, they want some big-name players and they’ll get their chance with one of the biggest free agents, Carmelo Anthony, on Thursday.
They’re so serious about rebuilding that Kobe Bryant jetted back from Europe, interrupting his vacation (or latest PRP treatment), to make a pitch to Anthony, who has visited Chicago, Houston and Dallas since free agency opened Tuesday morning. Bryant’s PR campaign isn’t likely to end there, either, with the Lakers dreaming of their own Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony and Bryant. The Lakers also hope to retain Pau Gasol and would be in a better position if they had Anthony on board. One thing is certain: the team is flush with cash, which will help Bryant make his case. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports:
Selling that vision will fall to Bryant, general manager Mitch Kupchak, Lakers president Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and several other figures the team has enlisted to make the case that Anthony should leave New York to play for a team that has won 16 NBA titles. Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported Monday that the Lakers turned more than $100 million in profits last season –after paying luxury-tax and revenue-sharing fees — because of their lucrative television and radio contracts.
The Lakers’ $158 million profit last season (before luxury taxes and revenue sharing) was more than double that of the franchise with the next-highest profit, the Bulls ($75.7 million profit before taxes and revenue sharing). The Bulls, Mavericks and Rockets all have made pitches to Anthony this week. The New York Knicks are expected to make the final pitch to him, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
Despite Bryant’s friendship with Anthony, it won’t be easy to reel him in, even if his wife, Lala, might like L.A. Anthony has heard a lot of wonderful things about him this week. The Chicago Bulls brought in their stars to woo him. The Houston Rockets all but kicked Jeremy Lin to the curb in an effort to land him. The Dallas Mavericks went low-key, hosting Anthony in a meeting that was all “basketball and business,” according to owner Mark Cuban.
Maybe the Lakers should go all-in on Anthony. They haven’t heard back from Rich Paul, James’ agent, or James about scheduling a meeting.