How much does Kobe Bryant want Carmelo Anthony to join the Lakers? So much so that he reportedly is cutting short his European vacation.
The Lakers star flew into Los Angeles late Wednesday so he could attend the team’s pitch to the free agent, ESPN reports.
Anthony will also meet with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, president Jeanie Buss and executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, according to the report. Bryant and Anthony have a close relationship, which might factor into his free-agent decision.
The Lakers have targeted Anthony, who has spent the past three-plus seasons with the New York Knicks, and LeBron James this summer, though they have been unable to set up a meeting with LeBron’s representatives at this point. The Lakers have held off hiring a head coach, hoping to entice either Anthony or James with the prospect of adding input into the decision.
Anthony met with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday and the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.
If the Lakers can lure Anthony, it would greatly improve their chances of retaining free-agent forward Pau Gasol, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“If the Lakers get Carmelo, Pau will stay,” a person familiar with Gasol’s thinking told the Times.
Yahoo! Sports/FOX Sports 1 NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Miami Heat have reached out to Gasol. The San Antonio Spurs have also expressed interest in adding the four-time All-Star, according to Wojnarowski.