Would Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol Pairing Extend Kobe Bryant’s Title Window?

All roads to Kobe Bryant's sixth NBA championship lead through someone other than the Black Mamba himself.

Pushing 36, coming off a season during which he appeared in just six games and headlining a roster devoid of staying power, Bryant needs help—a star-studded supporting cast anchored with more than one proven player who can help him salvage what's left of his career.

And it's the Los Angeles Lakers' job to give him those players. 

Are those players Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol? And if so, are they enough to rescue Los Angeles from the depths of the lottery in time to bring Bryant within reach of his legacy-cushioning sixth championship?


Making the Necessary Assumptions

Part of finding out whether this trio is title worthy lies in our understanding of what it will take for them to join forces.

Summer 2015 gradually became the Lakers' bread and butter. They would chase down and sign impact free agents then instead of now. Players like LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Anthony were long shots. Waiting another year was the smart play.

But there has been a stark shift in the mentality recently. There is no longer a need for the Lakers to sit tight and bide their time. The time to strike, to maximize Bryant's remaining two years, is now.

"We're prepared," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said, via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin. "If any of those players do want to make a move, we're prepared. And if we get word, when we're allowed to get word, we will go all out."

And go all out they will.

Or rather, have to.

The Lakers have to clear enough cap space for Anthony before going after him. He can earn more than $22.4 million next season, a price the Lakers can pay—as yours truly calculated earlier—if they only retain Bryant, Steve Nash, Ryan Kelly, Julius Randle, Kendall Marshall, ...

About the Author