Reports surfaced on Wednesday morning that the LA Lakers aren't sulking over losing Dwight Howard, and are in fact already preparing for their next free agent fiesta. Sources within LA's front office told ESPN that the Lakers will pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony when both are available in 2014.
That would be quite the steal, but as of now it's complete fantasy…and the Lakers know it.
Opinions are split on whether the Lakers can actually land James or Anthony, with one source calling it "realistic" and another saying it was "far-fetched at this point." Nonetheless, the Lakers have made it clear they are positioning themselves for a run at one and perhaps even two of the superstars who could become free agents in 2014, by refusing to commit to any contract past this next season, multiple sources have said.
Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh also have early termination options on the five-year deals they signed in the summer of 2010. Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut and Dirk Nowitzki will be unrestricted free agents next summer.
James, of course, is the biggest prize. But unlike in 2009 when James' free agency options the following summer were on his mind, sources have told ESPN that James isn't even considering his 2014 decision yet.
"It's all wishful thinking at this point," a league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN. "Teams are doing more wishing than LeBron is wanting right now.
"It's not about where LeBron wants to go [to win]. He already has two rings. If LeBron moved to Reno, teams would come to him."
Essentially, this is just floating the word to LeBron and Melo that LA is interested without coming out and saying it, because that would be tampering — further proving what a farce tampering rules are, as they essentially only punish teams/front offices for talking on the record by mistake. Leaking information, however, seems to be OK. And if LBJ and Melo happen to think it's an interesting plan and discuss it on their own, that isn't considered tampering either, unless they conducted the discussion over Twitter or during a presser.
Of course, this step seems largely unnecessary since every team would be interested in Melo and/or LBJ if they had the resources. LA would be interested in Kyrie Irving if he were available. It's really just a bit of a game.