Lakers will get Opportunity to Meet with Carmelo

(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony has decided to opt out of his current contract with the New York Knicks and will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been reported that Carmelo will entertain offers from The Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks; of these teams, only the Lakers and Mavericks will have available cap space to sign Carmelo to a max offer. 

The Los Angeles Lakers currently have 3 players on guaranteed deals for the upcoming season: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre. The Lakers have other players on very small non-guaranteed deals such as Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall, but those contracts will have little impact on the cap and can be waived if any additional space is needed.

A very rough estimate of the Lakers available cap space for this coming season is 20 million, taking into account the guaranteed contracts, cap holds for empty roster spots and their 1st round draft pick. The 20 million falls slightly short of a max deal offering for Carmelo which would be 22.5 million in the first year of the contract. The Lakers are able to free up additional cap space by waiving and stretching Nash’s contract of 9.7 million over the next 3 years which would free up about 6 million more in cap space, giving the Lakers enough to offer Carmelo the max.

The interest level of the Lakers in regards to signing Carmelo is still not clear, but they certainly would want to have a discussion with him if given the opportunity.

A drawback in the Lakers pursuing Carmelo is that they would be limited in making any trades or free agent signings until Carmelo has made his decision as to where to play next season. Trades where the Lakers acquire 1st round draft picks in this year’s draft from other teams looking to shed salary would no longer be an option as those picks take up cap space in the form of a cap hold. In pursuing Carmelo the Lakers would have to be in a holding pattern until at least mid July or longer if his decision does not come quickly. A risk of waiting on a lone free agent is that other free agents will come off the board as they sign with other teams while the Lakers wait for an answer; free agents like Kyle Lowry, Greg Monroe, Lance Stevenson will all be available come July 1st when the new NBA season officially begins.

The Lakers also have decisions to make with their own free agents, such as Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Pau Gasol. Their pursuit of Carmelo would make it where the Lakers are unable to commit to any of them until they get an answer. If the Lakers do land Carmelo and offer him a max deal that would leave only minimum contracts available for their own free agents which certainly won’t be enough for them to retain those players.

Carmelo opting out does not mean he has decided to leave the New York Knicks. The Knicks are still the only team that will be able to offer him a 5 year deal and incremental annual raises of 7.5 percent versus the 4 year deal and 4.5 percent annual raises that every other team can offer.

 “Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and the fans. At this stage of his career he just wants to explore his options.” Carmelo’s agent Leon Rose in a statement regarding his client’s decision to opt out. 

Carmelo’s intentions hopefully will become clear as we get passed the NBA draft and near the July 1st date. If not and the Lakers decide to pursue him, it would place them in an all or nothing situation where they either land Carmelo or end up with having to fill the roster again with 2nd tier players that were all passed up the first stages of free agency.

– Fern Rea

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Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom