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Carmelo Anthony says Kobe’s health will be key factor in determining whether free agents want to play for Lakers

Nov 26, 2013, 12:16 AM EDT

NBA All-Star Bryant of the Lakers and All-Star Anthony of the Knicks laugh during the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston Reuters

When the news of Kobe Bryant‘s contract extension with the Lakers broke on Monday, many fans of the team were immediately annoyed by the dollars being committed to the face of the franchise over the next two seasons.

The problem isn’t that Bryant doesn’t deserve every penny. It’s that at this stage of his career, he may no longer be capable of being the best player on a championship-caliber team, and the money tied up in his salary will limit the options the franchise has in surrounding him with enough talent to once again contend for a title.

But money isn’t the only factor in free agency, especially for veteran players. Guys who have already made tens of millions may be looking for a place to play where winning a championship in a major market is possible, and Bryant’s health and on-court ability once he returns from his Achilles injury may be as much of a factor as anything in players deciding to join him in Los Angeles.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

But as [Carmelo Anthony] chatted briefly with USA TODAY Sports about Kobe Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million extension, he may as well have been speaking for the entire free agency class of 2014 when he made this not-so-surprising statement: Bryant’s health and performance, rather than the size of his deal, likely will determine whether anyone of equal stature joins him this summer. When asked if free agents like himself would see Bryant as a star who is still worthy of joining in order to contend for a title, Anthony said, “I mean you’ll have to see. It’s hard to gauge at this point, not until he comes back (from his April Achilles tendon tear) and figures some things out. So I don’t know. They might have some plans up their sleeve.”

Anthony is potentially one of the more high-profile free agents next summer, along with the Heat’s core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. But Anthony is more likely than the Miami trio to consider leaving his current situation, and he has a personal relationship with Bryant off the court that may make Los Angeles an appealing destination.

Superstars will want to get paid as close to the maximum that they’re allowed to earn under the collective bargaining agreement, but a winning situation in a favorable market may be worth giving up some of those dollars. In Los Angeles, Bryant’s health and whether or not he still has an ability to play at an all-world level — even in spurts — will go a long way in terms of influencing any relevant free agent decisions.

  1. alqj24 - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    I’m curious to know why now, why did the Lakers make this move now instead of later in the year, or even a couple of games after Kobe has played. Not complaining at all about the timing, but definitely interested in what the plan is… Maybe Jim Buss learned to play poker like his father.

    • eventhorizon04 - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      Honestly, there’s no justification for it.

      If Kobe came back and gave the Lakers a 28 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 5 assists per game (i.e., an “I’m back” statline), he’d have earned this deal with no reservations.

      If Kobe (at his age and dealing with his serious injury) had given the Lakers a still solid 18-4-4 line, the Lakers could have (and should have) used that to argue for Kobe to take a more severe paycut.

      Literally, waiting another year couldn’t have led to Kobe getting a better contract that the one he got (which makes him the highest paid NBA player over the next 2 years, more than Melo/LeBron), but it COULD have led to Kobe getting a smaller deal if Kobe wasn’t near 100%.

      It’s bad strategy to refuse to delay a deal when a delay either doesn’t hurt you or benefits you significantly.

  2. beach305 - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    The problem is that other superstars don’t want to play with someone who has a “me first” attidude as Byrant has a reputation of throwing teammates under the bus.

    My feeling is that the Lakers are looking past Byrant in competing for another title. The next two years will be about developing players and aquiring draft picks. This deal was about selling tickets.

    Keep your eye on Durant in 2016.

    • zxrated - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:10 AM

      I really trip off people and the Kobe hate. There is so many quotes out there different from the constant lies regurgitation. Shaq, Gasol and most all of Kobe’s teammates over the years will tell how easy it is winning with Kobe…

      “Everybody can’t handle that pressure (with the Lakers). You can’t do it by yourself. You’re playing with the Black Mamba (Kobe Bryant), and it don’t get no easier than that. You’re either going to be with the Black Mamba and it’s going to be easier than trying to do it by yourself, or you’re going to be with LeBron, or with Durant — the third choice — or with Derrick Rose, the fourth choice. You were with the No. 1 guy — it don’t get no easier than that. … I don’t know Dwight personally, but a lot of people can’t handle that pressure.”


      • antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:14 AM

        Shaq doesn’t like Dwight – so I wouldn’t go to him for great perspective of Howard.

        And obviously it’s easier for Shaq to like Kobe when he doesn’t have to see him everyday – but when he was working with Kobe he hated his guts and visa versa.

      • unxpexted1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:58 AM


        Shaq probably did hate him, but people forget that Kobe was a kid during those years. Not like he was a grown mature man like Shaq was who was equally to blame for their relationship. Kobe is 35, and outside of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown I havent heard people speak out against him, even when they leave.

      • zxrated - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        Plenty of former teammates disliked Jordan when playing with him. This is nothing new or strictly conditional to Kobe. The commonality is the overall praise upon further review when it’s all said and done, just like Shaq and many others all say about Kobe… LO, Gasol, Fisher, Farmar, Metta, even Bynum all speak highly of their time winning with Kobe.

    • knightrider1755 - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      For a minute there I thought you were referring to Melo who is the undisputed guru of the “me first” philosophy. Kobe is a winner and has been a winner throughout his career. He makes his teammates better ( ignore Dwight Howard) and knows how to steer his team. He will find others who will want to play with him because they want to win. However, the jury is still out on Carmelo Anthony.

    • ryanrockzzz - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      You don’t win multiple championships with a “me first” attitude. You become Allen Iverson and win nothing. The media has perpetuated this about Kobe. Obviously, he’s an intense player, who demands a lot and probably says some things in the heat of the moment that offend some players. That said, he’s a good player who won while playing 1a to Shaq, and then took over a team and won even more. I don’t think all of the upcoming free agents will want to go there for FEAR of being held to Kobe’s personal standards, and after seeing what happened with the Dwightmare saga, it seems only a close friend (Melo) or egomaniac (King Lebron) may be fits.

  3. mackcarrington - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Who would know better than him about having a supposed superstar teammate who is sub-par physically?

  4. legend30 - Nov 26, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    In other words, Carmelo Anthony is signing with the Lakers, if Kobe is healthy. Watch Carmelo leave, and the Knicks starts to panic and give Rudy Gay a 5-year 100 million deal (another A’mare Stoudemire contract).

  5. antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    I wish Melo and Kobe would play together. It would be similar to the Melo-Iverson pairing. A chucker’s delight.

    • unxpexted1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 8:55 AM

      I’m sure i’m in the minority but I believe that Kobe and Melo could play together because there “seems” to be a mutual respect there. Unlike the Dwight and Kobe relationship, you can tell Kobe didnt’t respect Dwight. Kobe respects Gasol….Gasol still sticks around, and its normally Kobe telling Gasol that he needs to be aggressive and shoot more.

      And even in a small sample size, when the Knicks when on that nice winning streak at the end of the year. JR Smith was balling and Carmello was allowing him to get his. I do think Kobe and Melo have that personality of….if nobody else is going to do anything then I’m just going to keep take over. I think that changes when you have another scorer you can count on. Kobe has proven that he can play if you put the pieces around him.

      • redbaronx - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        @unxpexted1 – Two chuckers that like the right wing that play the 3 spot (Melo isn’t a real 4)? It would never work.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 26, 2013 at 4:14 PM

        I’m sure i’m in the minority but I believe that Kobe and Melo could play together because there “seems” to be a mutual respect there.

        I have no doubt about that. Sure, they can tolerate eachother. What I’m questioning is the potential W-L result of such contented pairing. Like I said… a chucker’s delight… ignorance is bliss! I’m sure they’d be very happy together.

  6. 32magicman - Nov 26, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    Definitely should have left the contract offer until later in the season. What happens if he does a D.Rose and writes himself off with another injury? He’s no spring chicken!

  7. em11965 - Nov 26, 2013 at 5:40 AM

    If Carmelo goes to the Lakers, he is a fool. He can stay with the Knicks and get two more max players or he can go to the Lakers, and him and Kobe will tie up the whole salary cap. The grass is greener on the other side.

  8. ddpenny - Nov 26, 2013 at 6:01 AM

    this also means that if kobe is still with the Lakers, he won’t sign with them..

  9. Anoesis - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    It doesn’t matter what any other player in the league says, whether it’s O’Neal or Anthony or someone else, all the “expert” commenters on here just KNOW that no one wants to play with Bryant.

    Face it, anonymous internet gurus like ddpenny, beach305, and antistratfordian know WAY more about what goes down deep inside every NBA team than any mere player. “No one wants to play with Kobe” fits their negative narrative and makes them feel better about themselves, so stop trying to put pesky facts in their faces.

  10. m4a188 - Nov 26, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Yeah, I’m sure that players all around the league are lining up to play with Kobe. lol

    • unxpexted1 - Nov 26, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Chris Paul was pretty happy when he thought he was going to LA and had talked about joining forces with Kobe before then…..

      • m4a188 - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM

        I pretty sure that was more about Howard being there so that they could rebuild with the two of them moving forward.

      • asimonetti88 - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        “I pretty sure that was more about Howard being there so that they could rebuild with the two of them moving forward.”

        Citation needed.

  11. m4a188 - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    @ asimonetti88

    Here you go

    “Paul and Howard will be the biggest free agents on the market this summer, and their desire is to play together, the sources said. ‘They would love to play together if somebody can make it happen,’ one of the sources said.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 26, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Bleacher Report: where opinion is presented as fact.

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