The Los Angeles Lakers has always been known as a franchise of superstars and after Dwight Howard proved that he couldn't hack it under the bright lights, the team has started to position itself for life without Kobe Bryant in the future and they have set their sights on 2014 free agents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Talk about the two stars heading to Los Angeles has been speculated for the past couple years, but now that the 2014 free agent class is a year away, things have started to Heat up about Anthony or James or both joining the franchise. According to ESPN Los Angeles, sources close to the Laker organization said that the team is focusing on 2014 with James and Anthony, which is why they have given out new contracts that all expire by the end of next season.
After losing Dwight Howard and dealing with the fallout from that situation, the team has put its sights on two of the biggest stars in the game in James and Anthony. James is coming off another MVP and his second straight title and while it appears he is happy in Miami, after winning two titles and maybe a third next season, he may be ready to move on. James has shown that he is the best player in the world and Anthony added to his game this season as well by winning the scoring title and if he is frustrated by the Knicks, he could bolt to the West coast.
The source says that opinions are split between the front office, saying that one side feels it's "realistic" that the team could sign one or both of the stars, while the other side thinks it is "far-fetched at this point." There is plenty of time between now and then to figure out if a deal is possible and there is a chance that a sign and trade could happen down the line as well. James said already that he has not thought about 2014 at all, but after leaving Cleveland, many feel that it wouldn't be crazy for him to leave Miami as well.
There will be a number of high profile free agents even if that doesn't work out in 2014, as Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh could end up out of their contracts, while Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut and Dirk Nowitzki will be unrestricted free agents by this time next year. James has shown that he is by far the best of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade and while the team won two titles back to back, it was a tough struggle and one more may not come next season with the return of Derrick Rose, making the Bulls much stronger.
The biggest issue for the Lakers in bringing on a high profile star like James or Anthony is the $30.5 million salary that Kobe Bryant makes as well as the idea that he is the "man" in LA. That was one reason why Howard left and it might be a tough sell to both Anthony and James that they would have to defer to Kobe for a couple more years. The team has just Steve Nash at $9.7 million and Robert Sacre at $915,243 on the books for that year and since Kobe is expected to sign a new extension, there is a chance the front office figures out a way to sway one or two of the top five stars in the league to Los Angeles.