The free-agent winds are again blowing away from the
Carmelo Anthony will return to the
And their infinitely more slender shot at landing
On Wednesday, they agreed to trade versatile guard
It could be all for naught if the Cavaliers struck out again.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are facing another off-season of strikeouts, as they did a year ago when
Surprisingly, the Lakers' apparently empty effort this month left
"Look, they're going for it," he said Wednesday in Santa Barbara at a basketball camp he hosts each summer. "I mean, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it, man. They're being extremely aggressive and they have solid concepts and plans to be able to get it done and they're pulling out all the stops to ensure that we put a contender on the floor next year, and that's all you can ask for."
It remains to be seen if he still says that if the Lakers struggle from the start next season.
Bryant spoke of a solid Plan B, but the mid-tier free agents are thinning out quickly.
Kyle Lowry has agreed to stay with Toronto,
Luol Deng is still out there, though he's probably asking for at least as much as he turned down last year in contract extension talks with Chicago — three years and $30 million. That would be a no-go for the Lakers, who want to sign players to one-year deals, or perhaps a two-year deal, while keeping their eye on the free-agent class of next summer (
Assuming Anthony chooses the Knicks, the Lakers' chances of a reprise with
Gasol, 34, wants to return to the place he has called home since 2008 but also wants a solid roster around him, which the Lakers currently are not able to provide with a "nucleus" of the aging Bryant and injury-prone Steve Nash.
Gasol has been courted by San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Miami and Chicago. He made $19.3 million last season but was looking at a substantial pay cut.
In a free-agent system that often incentivizes big-money players to stay with their teams, Anthony, 30, would have had to accept a four-year, $95.9-million contract with the Lakers instead of a five-year, $129.1-million deal with the Knicks.
Anthony, who was born in
He met with the Lakers last Thursday and was said to be "agonizing" while determining whether to return to the Knicks or join the Lakers or
"He will have something for everybody on Thursday," said a close friend of Anthony, according to the New York Daily News. "He is really torn because this is the biggest decision of his career. But he wants to get it done in New York. He told me he believes in Phil."
That would be former Lakers coach
Bryant seemed to suggest he would be OK if the Lakers struck out in their attempts to land a high-end free agent because they had set out to reestablish a championship core.
"The organization, if God forbid we end up with absolutely nothing, it's not for a lack of effort," Bryant said. "That's something that I would be extremely proud of. You put forth the effort, you gave it your best shot … what can you do, right? So you just go from there and then it's on me to go out there and do my best and try to help us win."
What about sitting through another rebuilding year? The Lakers were 27-55 last season, 14th in the Western Conference, as Bryant played only six games and Nash only 15.
"I've never had patience, so why would I start now?" Bryant said. "But you do what you have to do."
Bryant lauded the efforts of team executives Jim and
The Lakers are still without a coach, but Bryant gave
"We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years," Bryant said. "I've always been a fan of his."
One issue Bryant apparently has put behind him is the injuries that have limited him to six games over the last 15 months. He said he weighed 218 pounds, which is normal for late in a season when he had leaned down.