The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly posturing for a free-agent run in the 2014 offseason at NBA megastars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, according to Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, but that would be a mistake for the franchise.
Los Angeles shouldn’t mortgage the future on two players who would be a long shot to sign.
With the franchise seeing firsthand the volatility of the market each year—the Lakers just lost All-Star center Dwight Howard to free agency this offseason—depending on two of the biggest names in the sport to come together and pick Los Angeles is a serious risk.
It would be logical for the team to target either James or Anthony, but targeting both makes the task of signing the players even tougher.
While the two stars have played together on Team USA in the Olympics, both men play the same position and would have to reshape their games to accommodate the skill set of their new teammate.
Add in the fact that Kobe Bryant is still involved in the fold, and there just aren’t enough basketballs to go around for LA. Going after James OR Anthony would be fiscally responsible and a great start to building a perennial contender once again.
Instead of just depending on free agency to create a championship contender, though, the franchise must rebuild the roster from the ground up and set the table for stars looking for a new home to eventually want to play in Los Angeles once again.
Players want to win, and as much as the culture with the Lakers is of a championship lineage, that hasn’t been the case over the past few seasons.
If the organization starts using its draft picks instead of trading them and begins to build a solid fundamental group of role players, it will make luring a big-name free agent much easier.
Signing the team’s two reported targets would undoubtedly make Los Angeles a favorite to win the NBA championship, but the salary cap issues the franchise would face would be horrible. With Bryant's salary included, there would be little room to add talent around the new big three.
While there was good chemistry between Bryant, Anthony and James in the Olympics, the fact that it has never truly been tested is a huge risk that has very little chance of actually working out in LA's favor.
For the betterment of the franchise, the Lakers should be targeting only one of the potential blockbuster free agents in 2014, not both.
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