Basketball / Sports

Lakers try to sell themselves to Anthony

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

The Lakers still haven't met with LeBron James' agent. Nor are there any plans for a meeting, even though the Lakers would like one. A lot.

So they continued to woo Anthony, who was willing to meet with them and spent 21/2 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.

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

After the business part, team executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak talked basketball with Anthony, who was 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, 14th in the Western Conference.

One person familiar with the Lakers' 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.

Without any positive signal so far from James, the Lakers' revival plans rest on Anthony.

If they sign him, they also feel 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. Dallas, Houston and Chicago cannot get close to that figure.

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

The trailer produced by Silver 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 future with the Lakers, interspersed with images of the city 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. Reporters and a handful of Lakers fans waited behind a gate and watched. Anthony declined to comment as he left.

The Lakers' pitch was much more low-key than some earlier in the week.

Anthony 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.

Large images of him in a No. 7 Bulls jersey ran the length of the arena, and, later that night, a throng of people waited for Anthony to finish dinner at a luxurious hotel.

Houston tried a similar salute with large electronic images of Anthony 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.

They hope they got through to him.

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

ETC.

As expected, Kurt Rambis joined the Knicks' staff after spending last season as an assistant coach with the Lakers. Rambis will be the top assistant under new Knicks coach Derek Fisher.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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