The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in signing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony should they elect to exercise the early termination options in their respective contracts and become free agents in the summer of 2014. Rumors of LeBron and Melo heading west to team up with Kobe Bryant aren't anything new, and they aren't anything especially feasible or likely, but combining the names "LeBron," "Kobe," "Melo" and "Lakers" makes for the kind of empty-calories conversation people enjoy having regardless of practicality or odds, which is how we wind up with a TMZ cameraman walking down the New York Knicks All-Star outside a Hollywood restaurant for an Earth-shattering "meh."
"I know the upcoming season is coming up — can you see yourself in a purple and gold outfit?" the paparazzo asked, wonderfully.
"Uh, I doubt it," Anthony answered. "It's not a outfit, though."
Melo then fed the beast by noting that he does, however, own a pair of purple and gold Jordans.
"I'm reading between the lines, dude," the TMZ guy continued. "I think I'm going to see you in one soon."
"I don't think you should read between the lines," Anthony replied. "I don't think you should do that. It's not good to read between the lines."
Yeah, that ought to stop basically the entire basketball world from speculating, circulating rumors and spreading wishful thinking about a LeBron-Melo-Kobe team-up that would require an incredibly improbable feat of personnel management/salary cap gymnastics.
The most likely scenario for Anthony probably involves exercising his ETO next summer, then re-upping with the Knicks on a five-year deal worth roughly $130 million, which is an amount only the Knicks can pay and that nobody else can touch, due to the Knicks holding his Bird rights and the specificities of max-contract offerings laid out in the league's 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Projecting James' choice is a little more difficult, because he's already eschewed the absolute top dollar in search of greater team glory when he agreed to take less than the max to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat in 2010, but it's still pretty difficult to envision him being eager to take enough of a pay cut to slot in alongside Melo and Kobe, especially if Bryant's really unwilling to do the same. This isn't a video game with the salary cap turned off; there are rules.
And yet, despite the implausibility of such a tripartite partnership and the fact that we're a full year removed from when any of this conversation could actually get serious, here we are, because of big names and the offseason. Personally, I prefer my empty summer calories to come in the form of a nice, cold beer, but hey, it takes all kinds, I guess.
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