Adam ZagoriaCarmelo Anthony says he doesn’t expect his friend Kobe Bryant to recruit him to come play for the Lakers.
“No, I think Kobe respects me as a ballplayer, as a person, as a friend, so I don’t think none of them phone calls will be coming next,” Anthony said Friday after practice.
Technically, Bryant or any other player can’t tamper with Anthony during the season, but that wouldn’t stop Anthony from considering playing alongside Kobe. And it would be hard to demonstrate that the two had been in touch during the season anyway.
LeBron James was in touch with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh before they all teamed up in Miami, and it is now in vogue for NBA stars to team up in an effort to win a championship.
The Lakers appear to be one franchise who would actively target Anthony after he opts out and becomes a free agent next summer. Anthony’s wife, La La Vasquez, is an actress who often works in L.A, and the Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in sports.
The Knicks can offer Anthony $129 million over five seasons, while another team’s best offer would be $96 million over four years.
Anthony continues to insist he doesn’t want to talk about his impending free agency and said he told coach Mike Woodson before the season began that it wouldn’t be a distraction.
“Actually I went to him before the season and told him, ‘Don’t even think about worrying about me as far as let that interfere with my game or with this team because I’m not, so you shouldn’t,’” Anthony said.
Still, this figures to be a storyline that hovers over Anthony and the Knicks throughout the season — especially when superstars from other teams visit the Garden.
As for Bryant, who remains sidelined with an Achilles injury, Anthony reiterated that he thinks Bryant can come back and be as good as ever.
“I know he’s working,” Anthony said. “They say he’s a little bit ahead of schedule. Depending on what that schedule is, I have no clue at this point. Anytime you get a chance to really just focus in and train, train, train as long as he has, you have a chance to come back a little bit better, a little bit smarter, stronger. From those aspects, you look at D-Rose, he had a year and a half, almost two years, just focusing on his body, and you can see the explosiveness that he have right now. So taking some time off whether you want to or not, it definitely helps.”
Anthony said he is impressed with Bryant’s ability to still play at a high level.
“What is he, 35?,” he said. “Yeah, I mean he’s a guy who’s gonna go get it. He’s known for putting in the work, he’s known for being in the gym. He’s dedicated. He’s determined. His mindset is one of those mindsets I haven’t seen in a person in a long time.”
Whether Melo ends up playing alongside Kobe in L.A. remains to be seen.
For the record, the Knicks host the Lakers Jan. 26 and visit L.A. March 25.
So expect the Melo Drama Round 2 to heat up on those dates.
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.