Lakers in 'serious contention' for Carmelo Anthony, according to report

Jeff Gross

Have the Lakers pushed their way into the lead for Carmelo Anthony, or is this a power play by the superstar free agent's camp?

Carmelo Anthony's big decision is expected to come any day now, and his meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers seems to have made it an even tougher choice. Anthony's visit with the Lakers on Thursday didn't initially generate much traction on his possible departure, but Los Angeles made a "major" impact and are in the running for his services, along with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicksaccording to Grantland's Bill Simmons.

The Lakers can offer Anthony a four-year, $97 million maximum contract without making any additional roster moves to fit him into their salary structure, which was a part of the franchise's pitch that now has it in "serious contention" for his services, reports Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, Time Warner and Anschutz Entertainment Group executives, and James Worthy all attended the Lakers' pitch to Anthony. Kobe Bryant was unable to arrive in Los Angeles in time to join the initial pitch, but reportedly met with Anthony privately later in the evening.

What exactly does this report mean, if anything?

Of course the Lakers are in the mix

The Lakers, and a huge contract, are in the running for a superstar player? Color me surprised.

Of course Anthony is "seriously" considering the Lakers. The Knicks, even with Anthony back, don't have a very appealing roster situation as it currently stands. Add in the fact that Bryant and Anthony are considered "close" by many, and there's never been much reason to doubt he'd give the Lakers a long, hard look.

But the thing to keep in mind is this report doesn't indicate Anthony is, undoubtedly, going to the Lakers. Anthony sat down with a handful of teams, and the Lakers are just one of three that seem to have pulled away from the pack. The maximum contract money was always known to be on the table from the Lakers.

Still, the allure of being a part of the Lakers' championship-laden franchise, along with the opportunities that come with being a superstar in Hollywood, could be a big factor for Anthony. He could become the face of the franchise as the Lakers transition away from Bryant and into a new era of basketball.

This doesn't mean anything, or make sense

Why would Carmelo Anthony want to play on a roster that has little by way of talent or flexibility? The Bulls have a better supporting cast and an established head coach to offer Anthony. The Knicks have Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and a clear vision of the direction of the franchise.

The Lakers don't even have a coach or starting five signed to the roster as it stands. The Lakers biggest roster draw is Kobe Bryant, who has played a total of 177 minutes over six games since he tore his Achilles, and he soaks up $48.5 million over the next two seasons.

Sure, maybe Anthony is "considering" the Lakers, but his meeting with the team already indicated there was some level of interest to begin with. This could simply be a power play from Anthony's camp, using the Lakers' big contract and market as a way to create leverage before he makes his decision.

Anthony_photo_credit-_kelley_l_cox-usa_today_sports_medium

Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Likelihood: 5 out of 10

This report, if true, isn't exactly breaking new ground. Anthony met with five teams, and the Lakers being one of his top-three choices makes some level of sense. Still, the Bulls do have more to offer Anthony in regards to team building, especially in a weaker Eastern Conference. The Knicks can offer Anthony even more guaranteed money than the Lakers, with an additional year to boot.

Does this report mean Anthony is going to the Lakers? No. Is it possible that Anthony is seriously considering the Lakers? Sure.

I'd rate this rumor a 5 in likelihood it's accurate in depicting Anthony's interest in Los Angeles and that it isn't just a ploy by Anthony's camp to gain leverage in a sign-and-trade scenario. It shouldn't be taken as anything more than that, and free agency has felt like a coin flip this summer.

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