Report: Lakers to go after LeBron, Carmelo in ’14

The Los Angeles Lakers are planning to make runs at LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency next summer, reported on Wednesday, citing front-office sources.

Both James and Anthony have opt-out clauses in their contracts after the 2013-14 season, meaning that they can choose whether they want to return to the Heat and Knicks, respectively. James has two years of player options on his deal, whereas Anthony has just one.

The fact that this is even news at this point, nearly a year before the
Lakers can even begin to negotiate with James and Anthony, is a
testament to the strange position in which the Lakers find themselves
this offseason. Despite insisting that they’re building to win next
season, all eyes are on 2014-15 and a set of variables that are at this
point long shots.

According to the report, sources vary in their opinions of whether the Lakers could pull off attracting either player. The Lakers, for their part, are doing everything they can to put themselves in a position to offer attractive packages to one or both of the free agents; apart from Steve Nash’s ($9.7 million) and Robert Sacre’s ($915,243) deals, the team is not on the hook for any guaranteed money beyond 2013-14, and it doesn’t plan to add any such deals this year.

That said, there are plenty of other factors that could work against the Lakers in this plan, beyond the simple reality that one or both of the two players either opts to stay with his current team or isn’t interested in Los Angeles. In an interview with on Sunday, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni pointed out that cap space is only helpful if things break right for a team, and the Lakers will have to hope for the best as they enter free agency next summer.

On top of all that, Nash’s future – the team can waive him and stretch his payments over three seasons – and the size of the deal that Kobe Bryant commands when he becomes a free agent in a year will go a long way in dictating how much freedom the Lakers actually have. Even if Bryant chooses to extend his contract, the team could theoretically have enough space to offer two max-level deals, even if it does come at the expense of the team’s supporting cast. Bryant has said that he will play an active role in recruiting whatever free agents the team pursues next summer.