As free agency in the NBA officially opened for business at 12:01 a.m. ET, the Lakers were among the most active teams in reaching out to make initial contact with a wide variety of players.
L.A. has its own internal priority list, of course, but contacted just about any free agent that could potentially be of interest, just in case the players at the top of that list end up choosing to sign somewhere else.
At least one meeting has been secured, and while his joining the Lakers seems like a long shot, the fact remains that L.A. will get a sitdown with one of the two biggest names on the market.
From Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:
The Los Angeles Lakers will meet with free agent forward Carmelo Anthony Thursday in Los Angeles, sources told ESPN.
Anthony and his representatives were one of the Lakers’ first calls Monday night as free agency officially opened at 9:01 p.m. local time. They also placed a call to the agent for Miami forwardLeBron James and their own free agent center Pau Gasol within the first hour of the negotiating period. …
If James and Anthony represented the Lakers’ Plan A, then either Pau Gasol or Chris Bosh – perhaps paired with one of the two aforementioned gems of the 2003 draft class – were the Plan B.
Anthony also has meetings set up with the Bulls on Tuesday, and with the Rockets and Mavericks on Wednesday.
The Lakers goal (i.e. pipe dream) is to convince Anthony and LeBron James to join forces in Los Angeles — something the Suns would like to see happen in Phoenix, where a roster much more suited to winning immediately is already in place.
From that same report, here are the rest of the players L.A. called in the early moments of free agency: Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, Kyle Lowry, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, and Isaiah Thomas.
Anthony’s meeting in Los Angeles seems like due diligence more than anything else. The only reason for him to believe that’s a better situation for him than New York is would be because he trusts L.A.’s front office to build a contender more quickly than he does Phil Jackson.
The Lakers are not a team that is going to be patient with a long rebuilding process that revolves around collecting draft picks and hoping that rookies eventually become stars. That market and that franchise are always in win-now mode, and the way they handled the beginning of free agency is right in line with how things are traditionally done in Los Angeles.
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