After making his rounds around the country to meet with a number of NBA teams, free agent All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony met with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Kobe Bryant even went a step further to try and pitch the Lakers to Melo, leaving his vacation early to meet with Anthony. Though he wasn’t there for the initial meeting, the two parties were scheduled to meet at some point on Thursday.
As the Lakers try and save face and get back to the prominence that they’ve enjoyed for so many years after a forgettable 2013-14 season, they are faced with essentially filling out their entire roster around Bryant’s monstrous two-year deal. However, they also want to bring in a major asset and Melo seems to be at the top of their list.
While the interest on the part of Los Angeles was never doubted, it’s even less so now. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Lakers have told Anthony and his representatives that they will give him a full four-year max offer if he were to come to L.A. The max-contract would pay Carmelo $97 million over four years with an escalating yearly salary that goes from $21.6 million in the first year to $26.8 million in the fourth year, per Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders.
There’s no doubt that adding Anthony would drastically improve the Lakers. They would be acquiring one of the two best pure offensive talents in the league which could be dangerous when paired alongside Kobe. This obviously hinges on the fact that Bryant can recapture some of his former self after two major injuries, but even Melo alone would be a decent look for the Lakers.
While having Anthony and a healthy Bryant could be a lethal duo for the Lakers, that doesn’t solve everything for the franchise. The Lakers have to offer Carmelo a max-contract if they want to have a chance of attaining his services, but that also puts the organization in a bit of a bind as they try to fill out the remainder of their roster.
After signing Melo, the Lakers would have only about $6.5 million left under the salary cap with only Bryant, Anthony, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre having guaranteed money in their contracts. Throw in the rookie deal of Julius Randle and that number decreases even further. Considering the free agency market this summer, having that little cap-room could make filling out a roster difficult and the eventual supporting cast for Kobe and Melo less-than-stellar. They could try and stretch out Nash in order to sign another key piece, but that’s somewhat of a risk.
If you’re the Lakers, you have to do something to maintain your mystique and keep the fans happy. Signing Anthony would certainly do that and would also give them a better chance of finding their way back into the postseason. However, it’s not all gravy for the Lakers if they were to land Melo; they’d still have a good bit of work left to do.