The two men step on the court, grab hold of the ball and immediately put on an offensive clinic. Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony score from seemingly anywhere – in the post, behind the perimeter and close to the basket. They create their own shots with fundamental footwork, deceiving moves and sheer will. And they fulfill this job description with lots and lots of shooting.
So should Anthony join the Lakers, how would he and Bryant operate together knowing there is only one ball?
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim provided an answer after seeing Anthony help win win his lone national championship in 2003 and serve as an assistant coach when Bryant and Anthony played on two U.S. Olympic teams in 2008 and 2012.
“I think it would work,” Boeheim told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd. “They are both great offensive players. I think obviously you can have two great offensive players on a team, whether it’s [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James] or whether it’s [Kevin] Durant or [Russell] Westbrook. I think those guys can play. They’ll each get their opportunity. It’s a 48 minute game, they’ll each get their opportunity. I think it takes some of pressure off each guy. If Kobe is in good shape and healthy, he’s going to get his 20-25 points,and I think Carmelo will as well.”
Yet, Boeheim, who famously is known for watching plenty of NBA and college basketball fans out of his own enjoyment, suggested the Bryant-Anthony pairing is not a match made in heaven. Not because Boeheim does not believe Bryant and Anthony can carry over their friendship and chemistry stemmed from their Olympic run. Instead, Boeheim wonders if the pairing will provide enough to put the Lakers back into the championship contention after finishing last season with the worst record in L.A. franchise history.
“If they’re playing together, it helps them make a good team. But do they have enough guys around them to win in the West?” Boheim said. “That would be awfully difficult in the emergence of Portland, the Clippers, Oklahoma City and the Spurs. That’s a tough way to go in the playoffs.”
There is a sense that if Anthony joins the Lakers, Pau Gasol will immediately follow suit. A starting lineup featuring Bryant, Anthony, Gasol and rookie Julius Randle seems tantalizing. Yet, the Lakers would become severely limited with cap space. With only Bryant, Randle, Robert Sacre and Julius Randle with guaranteed contracts next season, the Lakers already have devoted $37 million toward next season’s $63 million salary cap.
Hence, why Boeheim suggested Anthony would be better off playing with the Chicago Bulls.
“I haven’t talked to Carmelo about this, so I’m not involved,” Boeheim said. “That’s something he has to figure out, and he will. But on paper, if you knew Derrick Rose would be good and healthy, it would be hard to find a better fit than what Chicago looks like. I love the coach there. I love the way [Joakim] Noah plays and [Taj] Gibson and a healthy Rose. Obviously that looks like a great situation. But how it all works out and plays out is a tough call.”
But as far as how Bryant and Anthony would work together? Boeheim, who has remained fiercely loyal to Anthony following his lone season at Syracuse, appeared to have little doubt.
“He’s easy to get along with,” Boeheim said of Anthony. “He’s a good teammate.”
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