Kobe Bryant, who has been traveling in Brazil and Europe in recent weeks, returned to Los Angeles so he could play a key part in the Lakers' pitch to free agent forward Carmelo Anthony on Thursday.
Bryant and Anthony are long-time friends and Olympic teammates. The Lakers and Anthony are meeting at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles.
According to ESPN.com, the Lakers have made Anthony and free agent LeBron James the main focus of their offseason, going so far as to hold off hiring a coach and signing other free agents until they could make their pitches to the two players.
James and his agent, Rich Paul, have yet to grant formal meetings to any teams.
Bryant, general manager Mitch Kupchak, Lakers president Jeanie Buss and executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss are expected to be involved in the recruitment of Anthony.
The Lakers may be even less appealing to Anthony should they lose free-gent center Pau Gasol, who is being courted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
The Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets all have met with Anthony this week. The New York Knicks are expected to make the final pitch to him sometime over the Fourth of July weekend.
The Knicks remain confident that they can re-sign the All-Star. ESPN quoted a source as saying team president Phil Jackson has “connected” with Anthony.
The Knicks can offer Anthony a maximum contract of five years and $129 million. The most any other team can give him is four years and $96 million.Copyright © 2015, RedEye