With free agency set to begin tonight at 9:01 pm Pacific Time, general managers around the league are preparing to pursue the two biggest names in this year’s free agent class: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will also be one of those guys working the phones this evening, though it seems Kobe Bryant has already beaten him to it.
According to ESPN Los Angeles’ Ramona Shelburne, Bryant has already been in contact with LeBron and Melo to pitch the idea of forming a Big Three in Hollywood:
[pullquote]The Lakers had this idea where they could clear enough [cap] room where they could get [LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony] but then they’d only play for $16 million per year. I don’t think that was ever that realistic. Plus, Kobe [Bryant] was going to have to sell them [on the idea] and say, “It would be just like the Olympic team where I play defense and you guys be the stars.” [Kobe] actually did that. He actually did call both of them and talked to them about it but the sense I get is that neither of them are playing for $16 million each … I think all of this is just these guys having leverage. I think Melo goes back to New York and LeBron goes back to Miami.[/pullquote]
This is pretty interesting, especially if Bryant truly told LeBron and Melo that he’d be willing to take a back seat and focus on defense as opposed to being the star on the offensive end. This is the complete opposite of what he reportedly told Dwight Howard before he joined the Lakers in 2012. Apparently, Kobe told Howard he could be L.A’s “Tyson Chandler,” a comment that seemingly put Dwight off the idea of joining the purple and gold before he even played a game there.
Bryant also sent out a tweet last week that appeared to be targeted towards LeBron and Melo.
“They would be more than welcome to wear the Golden Armor,” Bryant wrote, along with the hashtags #lakers #upgrade and #nbaFA.
However, despite Bryant’s apparent change of heart and interesting pitch to James and Anthony, the idea of forming a super team in Hollywood is probably still far-fetched at this point in time.
Still, that won’t stop Kupchak, Kobe and co. from doing their part to try and recruit LeBron and Melo to the purple and gold in the coming weeks.