By Montezz Allen
With only three players under contract (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre) and a little over $30 million to play with in cap space this summer, the Lakers can offer Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony a max contract.
The 30-year-old has been on record saying that he plans to opt out of the final year of his contract, slated to pay him $23 million, and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“It’s definitely an opportunity I’m willing to explore and experience,” said Anthony. “That not whatsoever means that I’m not coming back to New York or I don’t want to be here in New York. So I don’t want nobody to get that impression.”
Anthony used his words wisely, but if you really decode what he said, he really meant this: “If you don’t surround me with players who I can win a championship with, I’m going to listen to what other contending teams have to say and then skip town. But don’t get me wrong, I love New York.”
Melo is arguably one of the top five players in the league. He had another career year this past season where he averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot better than 45 percent from the floor.
Anthony’s elite numbers were overshadowed by how putrid the Knicks were as a whole. They finished the season 37-45 and missed the playoffs.
Though the Knicks superstar will have an abundance of suitors after him once he reaches free agency in July, according Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Lakers want nothing to do with Anthony.
“The Lakers have cap space but sources maintain that they aren’t too interested in Anthony as a fit with Kobe Bryant,” Berman wrote. “Nor is Lakers president Jeanie Buss enthralled with stealing Anthony from Jackson, her fiance.”
OK Knicks fans. You can breathe now.
The reality is that pairing Anthony with Kobe Bryant can go two ways: up or down. It’s 60-40 in my book. There’s no shock there because if you think about it, pairing anybody together can be a risk. Just ask the 2003-04 Lakers or the ’11 Miami Heat.
Some say Bryant needs a younger superstar sidekick because not only will the younger star be the face of the franchise going forward, he’d also have more years left to play in the NBA.
Others maintain that pairing two ball dominant scorers — both who are in their 30s — simply won’t work. And let’s not mention that both players would take up a significant amount of cap space, too.
That’s true in some ways, but let’s look at the glass half full instead of half empty.
Bryant and Anthony both want to win now. Anthony desperately wants to win his first ring and Bryant is extremely motivated to tie Michael Jordan at six rings.
Another factor is that Anthony and Bryant have won two Olympic gold medals together in ’08 and ’12, so they definitely have experience playing with one another.
The way they mesh will also depend on the coach and point guard. A coach that can manage superstars while preaching the X’s and O’s can definitely figure out how to play Melo and Bryant at the same time. It depends on the system.
The system should be filled with motion so Anthony and Bryant won’t become ball stoppers. This is where the point guard comes into play. The Lakers need a pass first point guard that will deliver the ball to Bryant and Melo in the right spots.
Lastly, Anthony has at least 4-5 years left in him. Bryant has three at the most. Anthony himself will attract more players. That’s exactly what L.A. needs.
If the new coach is smart, he’ll manage Bryant’s minutes. That will make it better on Anthony.
Although it has been reported that the Lakers aren’t interested in pairing Anthony and Bryant together, I think it’s definitely something the franchise should consider. It isn’t a 100 percent guarantee the two star players will coexist, but then again, there’s no guarantee they won’t, either.