Still, it's apparently not too early to start looking into next year's free agency class and see what could happen with some of the game's biggest stars.
For example, ESPN LA writer Arash Markazi has been discussing a rather interesting possibility on his Twitter feed, and it's one that could definitely get fans talking in two of the the NBA's biggest markets.
Markazi mentioned the possibility of Carmelo Anthony, the defending scoring champ, heading to Los Angeles to play alongside Kobe Bryant for the end of his career.
Apparently the rumor started with Stephen A. Smith. Despite his craziness from time to time, Smith actually knows a thing or two about the NBA, has decent sources, and is in contact with quite a few of the top players in the NBA. For whatever that's worth.
Stephen A. says it's 50-50 Carmelo Anthony leaves New York next year and it's 50-50 he comes to the Lakers.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
So basically, there's a 25% chance that Carmelo will be in a Lakers uniform in 2014-15. Is that really possible? Apparently so, and Kobe Bryant would welcome the opportunity.
So Kobe would be ok with it? That's actually an incredibly important aspect to this deal, since Kobe's still the team leader there, and his contract also dictates a lot of what the Lakers are able to do in free agency.
Carmelo and Kobe are tight and they've talked in passing about a desire to play together after their Olympic experience.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
The Lakers could offer Carmelo Anthony a four-year, $100 million deal next year.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
Wait, what? That's a bit insane. I actually thought the max was 4 years and $88 million, but I'm sure Markazi knows more about these things than I do, so I'll take his word for it. Damn near the entire Lakers roster comes off the books next year, so they'll have quite a bit of flexibility. Depending on whether or not they can get a hometown discount from Kobe, they could do a lot of damage in the free agent market.
If Anthony was offered $100M over four years to go to Los Angeles and also play with one of the greatest players of all time, I'm not sure he'd be able to turn that down.
Not only would it give him a chance to play with Kobe instead of Amare Stoudemire and whoever else the Knicks manage to sign, it would also give Melo a chance to take some of the pressure off his shoulders, since Kobe would obviously be the top dog.
I can't blame them. Carmelo hasn't really proven to be a winner in the NBA, his defense is suspect at best, and there's no telling how (or if) he could successfully mesh with Bryant in the Lakers' offense.
Early response from the majority of Lakers fans on Twitter is they don't want Carmelo Anthony.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
This is an excellent point. Mike D'Antoni is on thin ice in Los Angeles, and there's no question that they would gladly get rid of him if it meant attracting better superstars.
As far as Carmelo and D'Antoni not getting along, let's not act like D'Antoni's job is safe. There's a chance he's not back next year.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
This is the craziest thought, and an important one for Kobe to consider. This basically means the Lakers could create their own "Big Three" in LA. It sounds like Carmelo would be willing to play with Kobe in LA, but would Wade, James, or Bosh leave Miami?
If Kobe takes a big pay cut, the Lakers could go after two max stars. LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Bosh could be available.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013
I'm not sure Bosh is even a desirable option, to be honest. The Heat probably already want him gone, and there are a lot of flaws in his game that make it questionable whether he's actually worth a max contract.
As for James and Wade... is there really a chance that they'd go to Los Angeles and play with Kobe? No matter what, Kobe would be considered the team leader in LA. While Wade has somewhat ceded that position to LeBron in Miami, but he's still highly respected in that city and with that team. With the Lakers, any player that signs would absolutely be viewed as playing second fiddle to Kobe, even if it were a clearly superior player like LeBron.
Would he be willing to take on that role? I tend to doubt it. The biggest perceived weakness in LeBron's legacy is already the fact that he had to pair up with other superstars to win a championship. That perception would only be strengthened if he were to join forces with Bryant.
This seems pretty clear. The best way for the Lakers to attract players would undoubtedly be to give Phil Jackson a huge role in the recruiting process, and really in any capacity he wants. The more involved Phil Jackson is, the better off the Lakers will be. No matter what else they do, they need to find a way to get him a serious role in the organization.
The Lakers best chance at making a big splash or two in free agency is giving Phil some control and including him in the recruiting process.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 8, 2013