Lakers entice Carmelo Anthony with max offer

Jeff Gross

Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony could be paid well to play alongside a core that also includes Kobe Bryant and perhaps even Pau Gasol.

Carmelo Anthony's fresh interest in playing for the Los Angeles Lakers is partially about the roster outlook, but it's also about the financial details. The Lakers are the only team other than the New York Knicks that has the mutual interest and the max contract money to spend on the free agent forward, and for that, Anthony is giving them a hard look, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard.

Anthony could return to the Knicks on a five-year deal worth $129 million. According to ESPN, the Lakers offered Anthony a four-year contract worth $97 million, more than any new team can offer him without shedding any salaries to open cap space.

In Los Angeles, Anthony is intrigued by a roster that at this point has little money committed, other than Kobe Bryant's deal that will pay him $23.5 million next season. Only veteran point guard Steve Nash, center Robert Sacre and rookie forward Julius Randle are on guaranteed contracts heading into the 2014-15 season.

Even with both Bryant and Anthony on the books, the Lakers would have enough available cap space to make a strong push toward re-signing free agent forward Pau Gasol. ESPN reports that Gasol would quickly consider a return to Los Angeles to join forces with Bryant and another star like Anthony. Gasol has also discussed his options with the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder.

A less likely scenario is that the Lakers make a push to sign both Anthony and LeBron James, who has still not decided whether he will leave Miami. James and Anthony couldn't accept max deals in such a scenario and would have salaries each starting at around $16 million per season. That appears to be a long shot since both James and Anthony have reportedly put a priority on earning max-level deals, no matter where they land.

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