Around this time last week, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were caught by surprise when it was reported that free agent Carmelo Anthony was impressed with the team’s pitch to him and were now considered a “serious contender” to land the 30-year-old.
Of course, Melo would eventually decide to stay with the New York Knicks, though the mere fact that the Lakers went from outsiders to a front-runner in a matter of days was impressive.
Still, for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, the possibility of signing Melo was always a little bit of a pipe dream.
“We always felt like it was a longshot,” Kupchak said, according to Bill Oram from the Orange County Register. “We gave it our best shot and we’re happy to accomplish what we did and we still have more work to do.”
Despite such a scenario being “a longshot” – and the team apparently being lukewarm on the idea of signing the Syracuse product earlier in the year – the Lakers decided to do their due diligence and entertain the idea of signing Melo.
However, the Lakers always knew they were at a disadvantage when it came to the financial side of things thanks to the league’s CBA.
“Everybody really worked well together and made great presentations and that’s the best we can do,” Kupchak said. “There’s a lot going against you when you’re working with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Under the rules of the current CBA, the Knicks were able to offer Anthony a five-year deal worth $129 million, while the Lakers were restricted to a four-year contract worth $96 million.
Once it was clear to the team that Anthony was no longer considering them, Kupchak and co. put their Plan B into action by acquiring talented point guard Jeremy Lin and two future draft picks from the Houston Rockets.
They also later came to agreements with Nick Young and Jordan Hill, though the deals have not yet been made official.
While the moves made by the Lakers may not be blockbuster material, the team have already secured a handful of solid players for next season – including Julius Randle and the emerging Jordan Clarkson – as opposed to handing out overinflated contracts to third and fourth option-type players.
With the moves they have made, the Lakers have set themselves up for maximum salary cap flexibility in the coming summers when players such as Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol (2015) and Kevin Durant (2016) could be free agents.