Both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have early termination options (ETO) this summer to either opt in or out of their current deals with the Heat and Knicks, respectively. The Lakers — who, aside from Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, have very few players under contract for the 2014-15 season — are waiting to make a decision on their next coach until those big names have made their choice about next season.
Sam Amick of USA Today reports the Lakers have timed their coaching search to coincide with July’s free agency period, so they don’t limit their options for a possible run at LeBron, ‘Melo or even Kevin Love:
The slow pace of the Lakers’ coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D’Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the Heat’s LeBron James, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.
Right now, with Derek Fisher‘s recent hiring to coach the Knicks, and LeBron’s attempt to three-peat with the Heat, both player’s futures are mutable, but Amick points to James and Anthony’s friendship as a possible motive for teaming up with the Lakers, Heat, Knicks etc:
Yet according to two people with knowledge of the situation, Anthony’s part in this fluid free agency situation is worth monitoring as James is known to be interested in eventually playing with his close friend. Anthony also has a player option on his deal for next season (worth $23.5 million), and his connection to James has teams like the Lakers, Knicks and even the Heat wondering whether he may be able to join the four-time NBA MVP. The people requested anonymity because of sensitive nature of free agency talk.
LeBron, with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would all presume to opt-in next season after making their fourth consecutive Finals, the first team to do so since the ’84-’87 Celtics. That might change if the Spurs win the Finals this year, or it might spur (puns are always intended) the Heat’s big three to re-up with the Heat to head for a chance to win another title before all three become free agents. Then again, if the Heat win a third straight title, they might opt-in for a chance at four consecutive titles, with Bill Russell‘s Celtics as the only other team to complete the feat.
So most signs — including Chris Bosh’s frequent appearances on Dan LeBatard‘s radio show — point to the Heat’s stars returning to Miami next season, but the Lakers think they could pull off a miracle by luring LeBron and ‘Melo west to team with Kobe for another chance at a title. Choosing a coach appears to be part of that long-shot plan for now, so Lakers fans might have to wait until July before crucifying/lamenting whomever the Lakers choose to replace D’Antoni.
What do you think?
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