When you’re an NBA superstar, you’ve ascended to some pretty exclusive company. That’s probably why all the NBA stars are friends — much to the chagrin of older generations of players — and why collusion is a very real and somewhat pernicious threat in the contemporary NBA. Regardless, Kobe Bryant is flew back from Europe last night to attend today’s Lakers pitch to free agent Carmelo Anthony. Kobe joins a long list of stars involved in their team’s July pursuit of the 6-8 former scoring champion.
Ramon Shelburne of ESPN reports:
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant flew in late Wednesday night from a European vacation so he could play a key part in the team’s pitch to free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony on Thursday, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Bryant has a long history and friendship with Anthony and has been courting him for some time, but he felt it was important to be there when the Lakers made their pitch to him at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles.
Sources indicate the Lakers are enamored with [Carmelo’s] 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.
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.
The Lakers, of course, are one of the only teams who can offer a maximum contract right now. With Kobe pulling in $50 million over the next two seasons, their chances of creating a super team are held in check by the salary cap, even if they choose to pay the luxury tax, and by the fact it’s Kobe Bryant. Mamba has some overlapping skills with ‘Melo — a tendency to hang on to the ball for a stretch, and a still-devastating mid-range game near the elbows or on the wing.
After it was reported last night OKC’s stars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, flew to LA to meet with Gasol about joining the Thunder, many feel OKC are the frontrunners to sign the in-demand Spanish center, but if Kobe somehow convinces ‘Melo to join the Lakers — Anthony keeps a summer home in LA, so it’s not that crazy — Gasol would likely re-sign with the Lakers. Plus, Kobe and ‘Melo are friends, which is important considering Kobe’s somewhat overbearing manner with teammates who don’t stack up.
Not sure a triumvirate of Gasol, Kobe and ‘Melo would be that dominant considering Kobe and Gasol’s advanced age, but we’re guessing Lakers fans would be excited about the group following last season’s last-place finish in the Pacific Division. The Lakers, as we know, have held off on their coaching search until they have face-to-face meetings with ‘Melo and LeBron James. Today is Carmelo’s turn, but it’s not clear whether LeBron James will take a face-to-face meeting with any team, preferring to pick and choose where he lands through his agent, Rich Paul.
Just another development in the summer of free agency, where stars aren’t above taking part in their team’s recruitment of Anthony or James. Just ask Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, James Harden and Dirk Nowitzki, who have all taken part in their team’s pitches to Anthony.
What are the chances ‘Melo goes to LA?
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