Free agent Carmelo Anthony was rumored to have played a game of pickup basketball at UCLA with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Saturday.
The Lakers are in serious contention for Anthony after offering him a four-year deal worth $97 million.
Anthony could decide as early as Monday if he will stay with the Knicks, who can pay him $129 million over five years, or make the move to Los Angeles (Newsday, July 7).
While Anthony has shown concerns about moving his family across the country and loves New York, he lives in Los Angeles during the offseason and is close friends with Bryant. The two played together on the U.S. Olympic team, and Anthony has gone to Bryant for advice in the past.
Knicks team president Phil Jackson recently referred to Bryant as “persuasive,” and while Bryant could not make it to Anthony’s meeting with the Lakers, the team made an impression. The Lakers’ four-year, $96-million offer is the second most a team can pay Anthony — second to the Knicks, who are offering him $34 million more.
Playing for a team that will contend for a title is important to Anthony, and neither the Knicks nor the Lakers are in that position. While Anthony also met with the Bulls and Rockets, who do fall into that category, though, it would seem as though the decision will come down to New York and Los Angeles.