Lakers to offer 4-year, $97 million max contract to Carmelo Anthony

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

To the surprise of nobody, the Lakers will be offering Carmelo Anthony a max-level deal if he wants to join Kobe in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Lakers will offer Carmelo Anthony a max-level contract worth $97 million over four years, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles. That's the most money any team other than the New York Knicks can guarantee Anthony as a free agent this summer.

On Thursday, Anthony met with Lakers officials in Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of teaming with Kobe Bryant over the next few years. Earlier this week, the high-scoring forward already visited the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, while the Knicks stand to make their best pitch to 'Melo sometime soon.

Despite being one of the marquee franchises in the game, the Lakers have generally felt like a long shot to land Anthony this summer after being one of the worst teams in the league last year. While the return of a healthy Bryant certainly gives the team some added cache, a 35-year-old shooting guard coming off multiple major surgeries shouldn't be one of your best selling points.

The Lakers can offer a ton of money, though, and they're going to do their best to convince Anthony that a future in Los Angeles can still be bright even if the present doesn't look great. However, that may be tough if L.A. also plans on giving Anthony a max-level contract, since the combined salaries of 'Melo and Kobe wouldn't leave much room for the team to fill out a competitive roster.

If Anthony ultimately wants the most money, he'll return to New York, where the Knicks can offer roughly $30 million more than any other team. Meanwhile, going to Chicago would likely require a sign-and-trade unless Anthony is willing to accept significantly less than even L.A. could give him, so a deal with the Bulls might be a bit more complicated.

Last season, Anthony averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 77 games for New York.

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