Pandemonium has officially hit the NBA with Lebron James’ decision to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat. The front offices of all 32 NBA teams are driving themselves insane trying to figure out how to lure the King out of South Beach and lead them to an NBA championship. The July 1st free agency period with future Hall of Fame franchise players Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Lebron and the deepest draft in a decade make for an exciting summer.
Realistically, half of the NBA teams are either too cash-strapped, can’t offer a major market, or don’t have the high profile talent to pull off what Pat Riley and the Heat did four years ago. The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the fringe teams that have the ability to offer Lebron the package of money, a major market city with global marketing potential, but lacks the talent (other than Kobe) that will be needed to get Lebron to travel west. Unfortunately, and it pains me even more to say, the crosstown rival Clippers are in a better position currently to land King James to Tinsel Town, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the richest owner in professional sports.
Lebron offers the Lakers the ability to pair two of the greatest players in the game on one single team. The good news is that the Lakers are the best at pulling off this feat, with the history of the Shaq/Kobe and Kareem/Magic dynasties.
Mitch Kupchak needs to get creative and figure out how to outdo Pat Riley and the rest of the league. One potential option would be to lure Carmelo first in order for Lebron to feel that the Lakers are serious in building a team that could pull off a three-peat. The New York Knicks superstar would love the limelight of the LA–Hollywood lifestyle and the ability to create a way to increase his marketability, and the Lakers can offer him a max deal.
Carmelo is one of the best pure scorers in the game but has been surrounded by lack of significant talent the last few years due to injuries and bad signings. Championship rings define great players and Melo knows that he needs talent around him to get his ring. He has played next to Kobe in the Olympics, and the two are supposedly good friends. This combo would be devastating to defend for other teams and, if structured the right way, the Lakers would have enough salary room to sign the King or another great free agent. The chance at combining the talents of Kobe, Lebron, and Carmelo would be the biggest coup in the history of the Lakers. Imagine the game on the line and a team trying to defend those three options for the last shot!
Without a coach in place, and more questions than answers with signed players, the Lakers have put themselves behind the frontrunners Chicago, Houston, Clippers and Dallas with signing these free agents. The best news for the Lakers in this situation would be a drawn out process where Lebron listens to all the pitches, giving the team time to name a new coach, acquire an impact draft choice, and entice Carmelo to sign on.
To be great is to dream big and the there is no bigger dream than the Lakers adding Carmelo and Lebron to the Purple and Gold. The Big three would have a whole new meaning to basketball fans everywhere.