After listening for over two hours how the Lakers would provide the perfect avenue to win NBA championships, enhance his marketing opportunities and become the face of their storied franchise, Carmelo Anthony walked slowly to his car appearing to process all the information. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak escorted Anthony to his car before he drove away from the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. He stopped for one moment, though, and rolled down the window of his red Rolls Royce.
“You know I can’t say anything,” Anthony said with a smile. “Just wanted to say what’s up.” Anthony then signed four basketballs and a T-shirt for about eight Lakers fans waiting outside of the Lakers’ facility.
Lakers sources said they were pleased with the meeting, which represented a wide cast of characters, including team president Jeanie Buss, executive Jim Buss, Kupchak, former Lakers player James Worthy, marketing/business guru Tim Harris and executives with Time Warner Cable SportsNet and AEG. Anthony arrived at the Lakers’ practice facility with agent Leon Rose and business manager Bay Frazier shortly after noon PST and left around 2:20 p.m. PST.
Kobe Bryant was planning to fly from a vacation in Europe to Los Angeles for the meeting, but he couldn’t arrive on time, according to a league source. Although Anthony coyly said, “we’ll see” whether he will touch base with the Lakers superstar, a league source said Bryant will visit Anthony at some point following the Knicks’ meeting with him on Thursday.
The Lakers remain unsure whether they can convince Anthony to sign here. The New York Knicks can offer him a five-year deal worth worth $129.1 million over five years, as opposed to a maximum of four years worth $95.9 million with any other team. Anthony also visited Tuesday in Chicago before making a Texas two-step on Wednesday in both Houston and Dallas.
But according to various Lakers sources, a few pitches were made that went beyond touting the team’s 16 NBA championships. The Lakers presented the various marketing opportunities afforded both playing with the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. They brought up how Anthony would enjoy the working environment considering he and his
wife, La La Vasquez, would enjoy considering they already own a home here. Though the Lakers securing Bryant to a two-year extension worth $48.5 million presents challenges in filling out their roster, it also illustrates how the team takes care of its stars. It’s also safe to presume the Lakers expressed optimism about Bryant’s recovery from injuries that sidelined him for six games, the team’s financial flexibility and its unyielding commitment toward pursuing championships.
The Lakers preferred having a much more private atmosphere than the public displays Chicago and Houston unveiled. Those presentations mirrored that of a pep rally with billboards of Anthony’s likeness plastered in their respective city and arena. The Lakers wanted to focus more on the substance of their pitch than any bells and whistles.
But according to a team source, the Lakers constructed a mocked up a Lakers uniform with the No.7 and Anthony’s name, his number he currently wears with the Knicks. The Rockets sparked controversy after showing digital images of Anthony wearing Jeremy Lin’s No. 7 jersey on the side of the Toyota Center even though Lin is still under contract. Xavier Henry wore No. 7 for the Lakers last season, but he is an unrestricted free agent.
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