Throughout free agency, many have assumed that Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant’s friendship could be a factor in luring Melo to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.
However, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Carmelo and Bryant aren’t that close, and, in fact, friendships could help the New York Knicks steal a free agent target away from the Lakers, not the other way around.
There isn’t as much of a friendship between Anthony and Lakers star Kobe Bryant as has been portrayed, according to a person who knows both players well. And besides, with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher in New York, along with Spaniard Jose Calderon, there is hope that Lakers free agent Pau Gasol might opt to switch coasts and join Anthony rather than continue toiling in the wildly competitive West.
Whether Anthony and Bryant are friends or not, Melo going to the Lakers seems highly unlikely. Los Angeles did its part by offering Carmelo a max contract, a four-year deal worth $97 million.
But because the way the NBA’s CBA is structured, New York is able to and has offered Anthony a deal that lasts five years and is worth $129 million.
It would seem odd for Anthony to head to the much tougher Western Conference to play with an aging Bryant, when he could simply stay in New York and get paid more or go the Houston Rockets or Chicago Bulls and compete for an NBA title.
A friendship between Melo and Bryant obviously wouldn’t have hurt the Lakers’ chances. But ultimately, given Carmelo’s other options, it wouldn’t have really mattered all that much.