Lakers insist they were unwilling to give Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki max-level offer

With the Lakers trying to canvas every scenario into bolstering their team, it appears plausible that Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki represented one of the many free agents they inquired about in the past two weeks.

But a Lakers official disputed an ESPN report that indicated the team tried to entice Nowitkzki to leave Dallas for max-level money. The report said that Nowitzki refused to enter negotiations with the Houston Rockets or Lakers. But a Lakers source familiar with the situation said the team would have never offered a max-level offer to Nowitzki considering they planned to set that money aside both to pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers entered free agency touting both James and Anthony as their top priority. The pipe dream entailed convincing both to take a relative pay cut to play here, but they had a higher preference for James. That mindset changed once it became clear the Lakers had a shot to land Anthony, who agreed to meet with them at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. That is when the Lakers provided Anthony a max-offer, a four-year deal worth $96 million. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and senior vice president of business operations Tim Harris also flew to Cleveland to meet with James’ agent, Rich Paul. But they never met with his client.

The Lakers quickly changed plans once it became clear Anthony would not come here. They acquired Jeremy Lin and a 2015 first and second round pick from the Houston Rockets for the rights of overseas player Sergei Lishchuk. At that point, the Lakers did not consider themselves in the running for Anthony. But Anthony and his representatives had not told the Lakers they were ruled out. If Anthony unexpectedly told the Lakers he would like to play, the Lakers would have renounced the rights to all of their free agents to clear cap holds so they could afford Anthony at a max contract.

Once the Lakers were informed Anthony would not come here, they devoted their resources toward agreeing to deals with Nick Young (four years, $21 million) and Jordan Hill (two years, $18 million).

The ESPN report mentioned Nowitzki agreed to a three-year deal worth $25 million, a steep cut from the $22.7 million he made last season. That helped paved the way for the Mavericks to secure Houston restricted free agent guard Chandler Parsons to a three-year deal in excess of $45 million, which the Rockets did not match.


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