The Los Angeles Lakers may be ready to go all in for the summer of 2014. After letting Dwight Howard slip through their fingers, the Lakers aren’t committing to any contracts beyond this season, as they reportedly are prepared to make a run at possible free agents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony next summer.
According to ESPN, the Lakers are ready to court both James and Anthony should the two perennial All-Stars exercise the player options in their current contracts and become free agents. With Kobe Bryant already on board, a possible union between the three would trump James’ current “Big Three” in Miami featuring himself, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. While that super-team is nothing but speculation for the time being, could the three superstars even co-exist? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: I don’t know what would happen to Kobe if the Lakers brought James and Anthony on board. But if he were to team up with those three—and you know the Lakers have the finances to afford them—I have to imagine that it would work. With Kobe on his last legs but still in great shape, James and Anthony would do the heavy lifting with Bryant tossing in the extra seasoning. James has always been an unselfish distributor of the ball, so there would be enough shots to go around. I can see a scenario where Anthony would be the main point-scorer with James orchestrating the offense and Bryant attacking as the third scorer, extending his career a little longer. It could work, but will it happen? That’s a different question.
Green: That would never work. It has bad idea written all over it and the Lakers would be insane to even try such a pairing. You can’t put those three players together and expect endless titles. This “Big Three” nonsense has gotten to the point where teams are just trying to stockpile big names, without even stopping to think whether the pieces work together. It didn’t work for the 2012 Lakers when they signed Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. It didn’t work for the 2003 Lakers when they picked up Karl Malone and Gary Payton, and it wouldn’t work for the 2014 Lakers with Melo and LeBron. It’s unlikely, but they might release Bryant under that scenario, and that maneuver would be the only way that James and Anthony could coexist in Los Angeles.
Riley: I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. James is a natural point guard at heart and I could see Kobe pushing everything to the side and letting the two younger guns take aim at the competition. Kobe’s a smart player. I have to believe he would do whatever it took to get his much-coveted sixth championship ring. All they would need would be a serviceable big man to hold down the paint and rebound, and that trio would terrorize opposing perimeter units. You win in the NBA with athletes and defense and Los Angeles would definitely have enough of both to derail anybody.
Green: Who would be the center? Who would be the point guard? And most importantly, who would be the coach? Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, LeBron has never been a natural point guard at heart. Sure, he’s a great passer, but only because he’s used to being doubled and triple-teamed his entire career. When he arrived in Miami in 2011, he told reporters he has no interest in ever playing the point guard position, so I don’t see him doing it with Melo and Kobe, either. And if you think current head coach Mike D’Antoni would be able to manage all those egos after failed stints in New York, Phoenix and a debacle last year in Los Angeles, then you’re sadly mistaken.
Riley: D’Antoni may not even be the head coach this season, let alone in the 2014-2015 when Melo and LeBron could arrive. Besides, the grouping of Melo, Bron and Kobe would be the perfect scenario to attract Phil Jackson back out of retirement. Jackson only coaches star power, we all know that, and here you have three Olympians, three perennial All-Stars, two NBA champions and two NBA MVPs on the same team. He would take this team to the promised land.
Green: Who says the Lakers’ management even wants Jackson back, though? They had a chance to lure him back last season, and general manager Mitch Kupchak passed. That’s why Dwight Howard left, because he wanted Jackson to coach the team and management wouldn’t budge. The dream of Kobe, Melo and LeBron playing together is exactly what it sounds like: a dream. I think Kobe retiring after next season and LeBron re-signing in Miami is the more realistic scenario. Sorry, Lakers fans, but I’m just not into buying pipe dreams.