Carmelo Anthony started his free agency tour with a visit to Chicago on Tuesday. He walked past the statue of Michael Jordan and was surely reminded of the six NBA championships that MJ earned for the Bulls in the 90s.
Today, Melo is visiting the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, two teams who have won a combined three NBA championships during their existence in the Association.
And then there’s the Lakers, who are set to meet with Anthony on Thursday, and have sixteen championships to their name. Sure, the team’s rich history might not mean all that much to Anthony, so the Lakers plan to woo the 30-year-old using a mix of their past and present.
“We have a good story to tell and the best platform in sports,” one Lakers source told Ramona Shelburne from ESPN Los Angeles.
Yes, the Lakers can point to their past in the championship banners, their present in being one of the most popular sports teams in the world, and their future with the likes of promising rookie Julius Randle and the state of the art practice facility that they plan to build in the near future.
Oh, and then there’s that Kobe Bryant guy. Melo and Kobe are good friends – and so are their wives – so that always helps.
But what about the Lakers’ “shaky” front office set up? There have been reports in the past of Jim and Jeanie Buss being at odds, with some forseeing the purple and gold’s unsettled brain trust driving away potential free agents.
However, Jeanie and Jim’s troubles now appear to be a thing of the past, with Shelburne reporting that their relationship has “vastly improved in recent months,” and it seems the Lakers’ plan is to put on a unified front for Melo when he meets with the team on Thursday.
ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin says Jeanie, along with Jim and Mitch Kupchak, will attend the Lakers’ meeting with Anthony on Thursday.
Despite having a strong relationship with Dwight Howard, Jeanie didn’t attend the Lakers’ meeting with the big man last summer, so this is a good sign for the franchise moving forward.
While Jim and Mitch are more quiet and reserved, Jeanie is the ultimate people person, and it’s no surprise that Phil Jackson’s fiancé was the first Lakers-related follow on Twitter for Randle after meeting her for the first time on Monday.
And there is the other interesting aspect of this meeting: It’s Jeanie versus Phil. The Zen Master is expected to get the last meeting with Anthony before he makes a decision, though Jeanie will seemingly put on a full court press of her own on Thursday.
While the Lakers reached out to LeBron James’ representatives on Tuesday as free agency began, the four-time MVP isn’t currently setting up any meetings with prospective teams, leading to the purple and gold thinking “they have a substantially better chance of landing high-profile scorer Carmelo Anthony than two-time champion LeBron James,” according to Mike Bresnahan from the L.A. Times.
“[The Lakers] believe they can pry Anthony away from a New York return even though he can make more money with the Knicks,” Bresnahan notes.
Whether the Lakers’ plan comes to fruition is yet to be seen, though the Lakers seem determined to at least give it a shot.