The Los Angeles Lakers have to feel like they are sitting at the bar, waiting on a first date; it’s 15 minutes past the hour (they swear they said 8 o’clock), and it’s getting to be somewhere between running late and just plain getting stood up.
The Lakers thought they clicked, thought there was really something there.
Of course, there’s that stubborn ex that keeps calling, but they really got the feeling that was all in the past.
That’s where the Lakers are with Carmelo Anthony; reduced to sitting idly by (along with everyone else) while he attempts to place himself in the perfect situation that does not currently exist.
But the odds are Carmelo has seen his best options, and playing with James is not one of them.
There’s a reason Anthony’s top two choices are ones that can offer him a max salary. Melo wants his money, as does James. And, unfortunately for those holding out hope that the duo team up this year, no team can offer them both max money outright (even the Heat, with their free agent commitments).
So, assuming that no team is able to clear mass amounts of cap space, allowing the pair to team-up, we’re back to the trio of teams that Carmelo is considering. The Lakers are among them, and apparently made a big enough impression that they are sharing at least of a portion of the lead in the race to land Anthony.
The Lakers met with Carmelo on July 3, and have been waiting to hear one way or another ever since.
In fact, it seems like that’s all they’ve been doing as no other free agents have signed with the club in spite of their plethora of open roster spots. As a side note, the Lakers still do not have a head coach.
They’re all in on the big name free agents, Anthony and, to a far lesser extent, James.
To be fair, no moves can even be official until July 10, but most everyone expected a decision one way or the other after the holiday weekend. Instead, anxiety has set in for most parties involved, with no real indications coming down for a clear-cut favorite.
As infuriating as it is to sit back and wait on the pair to decide, it’s the best option available.
After James and Melo, Chris Bosh is the next big name on the market. He will likely decide on a Miami Heat return or an arrival in Houston. The decision is widely expected to come quickly after the top two choose their destinations.
Beyond those three, the cupboard gets bare very quickly.
Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe have star potential, but both are restricted free agents, and there is a belief that their current teams will match whatever offer comes their way. In other words, the Lakers can’t just throw money at these guys as a Plan B.
There are still talented players beyond that, but Luol Deng, Chandler Parsons, and Lance Stephenson are high-level role-players; the type of guys who put a team that has stars over the top. These players would be welcome additions to the Lakers, but are not making L.A. a serious contender in the West, at least not right away.
So, as the Lakers continue to wait, it becomes quickly clear why. They’re waiting on the hottest date they could find.
If they miss on Melo, the plan quickly changes. They can begin to focus on short-term contracts, and set their sights on the 2015 free agent class.
The splash made this summer will be minimal.
If they hit on Melo, it all becomes worth it. They can add veteran pieces, and young free agents (much like last season) at lower prices to fill out the roster. They can add impact guys in free agency next year after Steve Nash‘s contract goes away.
Either way, the future of the franchise will start to veer one direction or the other based on which way Carmelo goes.
And, until they know, the Lakers will continue to sit at the bar, staring at their watch.