Kobe Bryant insists the Lakers have a solid Plan B in place as they plot their summer remodeling project.
Not only are we about to find out what that fall-back strategy looks like, we’ll soon learn whether the Lakers can actually pull it off.
Because Plan A seemingly just went poof.
According to reports. free agent forward Carmelo Anthony has eliminated the Lakers from consideration, narrowing his decision down to the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.
No thanks, Hollywood.
What’s up, Windy City.
Glad to meet you, Phil Jackson.
And wouldn’t you just love to be a fork at the table tonight when Lakers president Jeanie Buss sits down for dinner with Jackson, her long time boyfriend.
“Honey, can you pass the salt….by the way, did you happen to catch the news about Carmelo?’
Meanwhile, does anyone want to play for the Lakers anymore?
First Dwight Howard, now Anthony.
What in the world of Jerry West is going on around here?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once forced a trade to Los Angeles.
Shaquille O’Neal took less money to leave Orlando to play for the Lakers.
From Wilt Chamberlain to Bryant, players have historically finagled ways to play for the Purple and Gold and the chance to hang championship banners.
Now, they are ignoring them like the beautiful girl does when the random creepy dude approaches them at the club.
So now it’s on to Plan B, which is rapidly looking like it will include Jeremy Lin.
Not long after LeBron James announced he was returning home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers were closing in on a deal with the Houston Rockets for Lin and a 2015 first round pick.
Houston is trying to create cap space to offer Miami free agent Chris Bosh a max contract and is dumping players left and right.
Lin, with his expiring contract coupled with a first-round pick, fits the Lakers long-term objective of young players on short-term contracts and assets.
But make no mistake, the Lakers suffered a loss today if the reports about Anthony are true.
Say what you will about Anthony and the questionable impact he would have made with the Lakers.
He’s a ball hog. He doesn’t play defense. He’s advanced passed the second round of the playoffs just one time over his 12-year career.
And he guaranteed the Lakers nothing more than a significant bump in their rebuilding hopes.
Still, this loss stings.
Could you ever imagine a time when not one, but two NBA giants declined a chance to play for the Lakers despite maximum contract offers approaching or exceeding $100 million dollars?
Could you envision a scenario in which the best center in the game and one of the greatest scorers in league history said thanks but no thanks to the chance to play alongside Bryant?
But Howard did exactly that last summer, taking less money to bolt Los Angeles for Houston as a fee agent.
And now Anthony declines the Lakers overtures to remain in New York or move to Chicago.
An added ripple effect is Pau Gasol might leave as a result, chasing greener pastures and championship rings with a better team.
The losses just keep piling up.
From a public relations standpoint, it was a tremendous missed opportunity.
The Lakers are in need of a momentum boast, a victory if you will, after spending the last two seasons reeling from the Chris Paul trade fiasco, the Howard calamity, two coaching blunders and the worst season in their Los Angeles history.
Anthony may not have represented an immediate turnaround – at least not a championship level revival – but reeling him in would have been a decisive win for the brand while restoring some faith in the Lakers front office.
Since the passing of long-time Lakers owner Jerry Buss, the disastrous coaching hires of Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni and the failed Howard experiment, trust has waned in the leadership of team president Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Prying Anthony away from Jackson and the Knicks – for less money mind you – and re-setting the Lakers future by putting another big-time superstar alongside Bryant, would have earned Buss and Kupchak some respect among an increasingly worried fan base.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
And now the Lakers are back to square one as they try to pull themselves from a two-year abyss – an eternity for a franchise that’s hung 16 championship banners and 10 over the last 34 years.
But at least Buss and the rest of the Lakers brass has the backing of Bryant, himself a skeptical critic over the years.
The long-time Lakers great vowed confidence in their plan Wednesday from Santa Barbara – even if it meant moving off the original blueprint of adding Anthony.
Bryant suggested the Lakers had other moves up their sleeve in the event Anthony decided against coming here, Lin seemingly one of them.
Another name to keep an eye on is Indiana free agent Lance Stephenson, likely on a short-term deal that preserves salary cap flexibility the next two summers.
That might be the more prudent long-term, anyway.
But for the short-term, missing out on Anthony stings.