Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the strongest challenger to the New York Knicks for free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony.
Their pitch of teaming Anthony with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Julius Randle on a team with no long-term salary obligations reportedly made a “strong impression” on Anthony.
The Lakers offered the maximum four-year, $97 million contract to Anthony, less than the five-year, $129 million the Knicks have verbally dangled.
There is some sentiment that Anthony’s respect for Bryant could ultimately “put the Lakers over the top.”
Anthony is living and training in Los Angeles this summer and has been in constant communication with Bryant.
The Lakers will also offer LeBron James the maximum and have met with his agent, Rich Paul, with the four-time MVP giving similar consideration to what the Lakers have to offer.
There are also scenarios in which both James and Anthony could come to the Lakers if each was willing to play for around $16 million per season.
The Bulls were seen as the strongest challengers for Anthony, but that has shifted over the weekend as they cannot offer him a maximum contract.
The Knicks feel “positive” about their chances of re-signing Anthony after their meeting Thursday.