Lakers push Hollywood angle to Anthony, will meet with James' agent

7/4/2014

By Mike Bresnahan

By Mike Bresnahan

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES (MCT) — The Los Angeles Lakers made their pitch to Carmelo Anthony on Thursday afternoon with a flash of Hollywood, an appeal to the future, and hope that a connection was made.

Then two of their officials hopped on a private jet and headed to Cleveland to meet with LeBron James' agent.

It was a stealth move for sure.

Some officials high up in the Lakers' organization didn't even know a meeting was scheduled Friday, but the Lakers were one of several teams allowed to talk to the representative of one of the game's most dynamic players.

If the Lakers impress James' first line of defense, they might be able to sit down with him in person. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and business Vice President Tim Harris will be the ones pitching James' agent, Rich Paul.

The Lakers have enough salary-cap space to sign either James or Anthony to a maximum contract, but the duo would have to take substantial pay cuts to play together in Los Angeles.

The Lakers were able to woo Anthony in person Thursday afternoon while he spent 2{ hours at their training facility in El Segundo.

Executives from Anschutz Entertainment Group and Time Warner Cable pitched him on the size and scope of the Los Angeles market. Movie producer Joel Silver put together a four-minute "trailer" of Anthony's life, narrated by Tobey Maguire.

Harris quarterbacked the business side of the meeting, James Worthy also spoke, as did team governor Jeanie Buss, who clearly expressed her desire to have Anthony join the 16-time NBA champions.

Team executives Jim Buss and Kupchak talked strictly basketball with Anthony, who is also considering Dallas, Houston and Chicago and met with his old team, New York, later Thursday.

At the very least, this meeting wasn't nearly as tense as the one the Lakers held a year ago with Dwight Howard, who already had one foot out the door when he was challenged by Kobe Bryant to stick around if he wanted to actually be a champion.

Howard went to Houston, and the Rockets didn't even get out of the first round. Not that the Lakers were anywhere close to the playoffs, finishing 27-55 and 14th in the Western Conference.

One person familiar with the meeting with Anthony called it "an enjoyable time spent with a very nice guy who was truly engaged in the conversation."

Bryant was not there but planned to meet with Anthony privately.

If the Lakers sign him, they think they can get Pau Gasol to re-sign for about half of the $19.3 million he made last season.

The Knicks have a built-in advantage because they can sign Anthony, 30, for $129.1 million over five years. The Lakers can offer a maximum of four years and $95.9 million, while the other three teams currently aren't close to being able to sign Anthony to a maximum deal.

Silver, who produced "The Matrix," "Die Hard," and "48 Hours" movies, was also in attendance Thursday and spoke about the relationship between the Lakers and Hollywood.

The trailer he put together was entitled "Third Act." The first act was about Anthony's early career, the second part touched on his struggles in Denver and New York, and the third act was about a Lakers future, interspersed with images of Los Angeles and Lakers legends such as George Mikan and Elgin Baylor.

After the meeting, Kupchak walked Anthony to his car, along with Anthony's agent, Leon Rose. Anthony declined to comment.

He was the toast of Chicago on Tuesday, his appearance for a meeting with the Bulls captured by a swarm of local TV cameras as he walked past the revered Michael Jordan statue at United Center.

Houston saluted Anthony with large electronic images of him wearing a No.7 Rockets jersey outside its arena, but it only managed to irritate Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, who is under contract for one more season and, yes, wears No. 7.

The Lakers didn't want to make such gaffes. They kept it simple. They told Anthony they didn't need him to sell tickets. They needed him to win games.

The last line in Silver's four-minute video pretty much said it all: It's up to you, Carmelo.

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