The Los Angeles Lakers have been in the middle of the discussions for every major free agent so far this off-season. Mitch Kupchak flew out to Cleveland to meet with LeBron James’ agent, and the team had their meeting with Carmelo Anthony as well yesterday.
The Lakers are long shots to land either of these superstars, but they are putting nearly all of their resources towards bringing in one of them, in particular, Carmelo Anthony.
While the Lakers have been busy getting everything prepared for Anthony’s meeting with them, unrestricted free agents like Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat have already signed deals. Additionally, the Lakers have already lost a couple of their own free agents in Jodie Meeks and Chris Kaman.
Some of the Lakers smaller targets could well be gone by the time they know if Anthony will join the team, and as such a long shot, you have to wonder if the Lakers are making the right move.
Players like Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng, Isaiah Thomas, Greg Monroe, and Eric Bledsoe are available in free agency as well and the Lakers could miss out.
So we asked our panel of experts, should the Lakers be putting all of their focus on Carmelo Anthony instead of multiple ‘second-tier’ free agents? This is what they had to say:
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Carmelo Anthony is not the answer to the Lakers rebuilding questions. First and foremost, since he is ball dominant player he wouldn’t pair well with Kobe. Melo also plays the same position as the newly drafted Julius Randle who ironically could develop into a Melo-esque player down the road.
Granted, Melo could play the three and Randle could play the four – so there could be a way to make it work between the two, but ultimately all roads lead back to Kobe. After all, the Lakers just rewarded Kobe with a mammoth two-year 48.5 million dollar contract extension. So it’s no secret who the Lakers are committed to.
Would the Lakers sacrifice Kobe’s effectiveness after making him the highest paid player in the league for the next two seasons by signing another ball-dominant player? I think not.
If you’re looking at things objectively, the Lakers chances of signing Carmelo are pretty low. At this point in his career he’s definitely seeking to join a championship contender. He’s been in the league for twelve seasons and has yet to reach the NBA finals.
Now if you look at current Lakers roster, it’s clear that they won’t be contending for a championship anytime soon unless they somehow sign LeBron James AND Carmelo Anthony. Point being, I’d be surprised if Carmelo seriously considered signing with the Lakers. There are other teams that are vying for his services who could be a Carmelo Anthony away from contending. The Lakers are not one of these teams.
It’d be wise of the Lakers to pursue non-max players like Bledsoe, Parsons, Hayward and Monroe. It’s tricky since all of these guys are restricted free agents (RFA’s), which means that their current team has the opportunity to match any offer they receive.
As of this article Greg Monroe has not signed his qualifying offer and there are rumors that he will only sign if the Pistons trade Josh Smith. Maybe the Lakers should swoop in and make an offer to the talented young power forward.
It would be smart for the Lakers to pursue possibilities with non-max free agents and see if they can swing a deal. Most of these young guys have yet to reach their potential and it would be a great opportunity for them to grow into stardom with the rebuilding Lakers.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I can’t lie, I was originally completely against pursuing Carmelo Anthony for a number of reasons. He doesn’t fit with Kobe, doesn’t make us a championship contender, and I’m not sure he is a leader.
However, as time has gone on, I have changed my mind, and am absolutely the Lakers putting everything towards bringing him in to the fold.
These are the Lakers, and the Lakers are built around superstars. Think whatever you want about Anthony, but he is a superstar. Anyone who can average 27 points and eight rebounds, and can shoot 40 percent from deep is worth having.
Even while acknowledging Anthony’s greatness, I was still skeptical. And then I saw the news that Kyrie Irving had signed an extension in Cleveland. There is no guarantee that these players will ever hit free agency .
LaMarcus Aldridge could sign an extension any day now. And who’s to say Kevin Love doesn’t get traded to Golden State and decide to stay there before ever hitting the open market?
The point being, if you have any chance of landing a superstar, you have to do it, so I have no problem that the Lakers are doing everything in their power to bring Anthony in.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): While the Lakers should always reach for the stars and try to land the biggest names out there, they would be better served shifting their focus away from Carmelo Anthony and taking a look at the other names that are out there.
The main reason I say this is for salary flexibility for the future. If Anthony were to join the Lakers, he would likely do so on a max contract worth over $22 million per year. It is my belief that the Lakers could get two really good players for that same price.
On top of the financial situation, I don’t believe a pairing of Kobe Bryant and Anthony can be effective. Even if Pau Gasol were to return and join Julius Randle in the front court, a lineup consisting of the four would still find it difficult to challenge the West’s elite deep in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Lakers will need a lot of help and luck if it wants to win a title within the next two years. One of my biggest concerns is what path will the team be on once Bryant retires. Since I don’t see the team winning while he is still around, I want to see the Lakers sign cheaper and younger players while continuing to pursue a max like player in future free agencies.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Should the Lakers be focusing all of their efforts on Carmelo Anthony? No. However, they should be putting a significant amount of focus on him. As much as I didn’t feel as though Melo would fit with the purple & gold, I’ve changed my tune on this stance.
Quite simply, the Lakers are coming off a horrible season and should be desperately trying to get better. Will Melo be the savior of the franchise or even put the team in championship contention next season? Probably not. However, he will add what the team desperately needs — wins.
In the same breath, I’d like the Lakers to pursue the “second-tier” players at the same time they are pursuing Melo. I feel as though with the addition of Julius Randle, Pau Gasol would be a solid piece for the Lakers and the two would form a formidable front court.
Management first needs to figure out which direction they want to go in coaching-wise, and if that suits Pau, perhaps he will re-sign. I also believe the retention of Pau Gasol would help Carmelo’s decision as well.
In either event, the Lakers should pursue all of their options at the same time — much as Carmelo and all other free agents are doing. The odds are not in favor of the Lakers landing Carmelo Anthony, as of right now, however.
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