Kobe Bryant flies back from Europe vacation to meet with Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony will continue his free agency tour on Thursday by visiting with the Los Angeles Lakers. No pitch to a superstar free agent would be complete for the Lakers without their five-time NBA champion and 16-time All-Star. That’s why Kobe Bryant reportedly flew back to LA from a European vacation late Wednesday night.
As ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne noted, Bryant and Anthony are close friends. Kobe has been courting Carmelo for quite a while, but he still felt he should be present when the team officially meets with the 30-year-old. While the Lakers — like all other teams — have reportedly made LeBron James their No. 1 target, it sounds like Melo can hardly be called Plan B.
Anthony is far from a consolation prize, however. Sources indicate the Lakers are enamored with his game and believe he would complement Bryant well. The Lakers hope to pair the two wings with center Pau Gasol, with whom they met on the first day of free agency.
Gasol has already indicated that the Lakers will have to make some significant changes in order for him to re-sign with the team, and I’m sure signing someone like Anthony and bringing in a new head coach would be enough to persuade him.
The Lakers are said to have delayed their coaching search so that free agents like Anthony or LeBron could pick their head coach if they decided to sign with LA.
While having Kobe fly in to state his case is probably flattering, Anthony has to decide if the Lakers give him the best chance of capturing his first NBA title. Kobe is 35 and has suffered significant injuries in each of the past two seasons. Gasol will turn 34 on Sunday and hasn’t exactly been a model of health, either.
If Anthony is going to leave New York (and it doesn’t sound like he is), you would think the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets would be far more appealing.