Mike D'Antoni resigned as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on April 30, and the Lakers still haven't chosen a replacement. The Lakers have a reason for moving so slowly with their coaching search, and that reason is the long-shot pursuit of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency, according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY.
Los Angeles has just Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre under contract for next season, so it has the potential to open up a large chunk of cap space to pursue James and Anthony. The two superstars can opt out of their contracts after this season, and the Lakers don't want to rush into hiring a coach and potentially limit their options.
Why this makes sense
If you're the Lakers and have tons of cap space, it does make some sense to go after the biggest fish in the pond. While the Lakers endured their worst season since moving to Los Angeles, they're still the Lakers and should have Kobe Bryant back. Bryant doesn't want to go through a rebuild, and signing one or both of James and Anthony would turn the Lakers into a much more formidable squad while Bryant chases that sixth ring.
James reportedly would like to play with Anthony at some point, and the current situation could provide a rare opportunity to nab both players. James and Anthony would have to take pay cuts, but James has done it before and Anthony has said he'd be willing to sacrifice in order to have a better chance at winning.
Why this doesn't make sense
Simply put, getting James to leave the comforts of Miami for a Lakers team that was a disaster this year is an astronomical long shot. There's some belief that if the Miami Heat lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will begin to explore other options. But even if the Heat go down, it makes more sense for the trio to stay together and just retool the roster moving forward. Two championships, four straight Finals appearances and Pat Riley would be hard to walk away from.
Getting both James and Anthony is pure fantasy, although acquiring just Anthony seems more reasonable for Los Angeles. The New York Knicks aren't exactly in good shape, and the Lakers may be more willing to shell out a full max contract for Anthony. There have been doubts about whether Los Angeles would pursue Anthony, but it would be a surprise if the team didn't make some sort of pitch.
Even if there's a sliver of hope, waiting around to hire a coach for the mere hope of acquiring superstars doesn't seem like the best way to go about business. Perhaps the Lakers know they can get one of their top choices even if they do wait, but it's still a bit of a risk.
James, Anthony and Bryant will not be teaming up in purple and gold next year. The chance that James leaves Miami for Los Angeles is miniscule, though don't completely count out Anthony bolting New York for the opportunity to play with Bryant. That scenario is probably a long shot as well, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.