Phil Jackson is now battling his former club and his current girlfriend over Carmelo Anthony.
There were multiple reports Saturday night that the Los Angeles Lakers – with Jackson’s fiancé Jeanie Buss as team president – believe they have emerged as a serious threat to sign the Knicks’ free-agent forward. The Lakers can sign Anthony to a max deal worth $96 million over four years, compared to the Knicks’ offer of $129 million over five years.
The Chicago Bulls, for weeks regarded as a potential suitor, currently only have the cap space to offer Anthony $75 million over four seasons.
A source close to Anthony told the Daily News that no decision would be made Saturday, but the seven-time All-Star owns a home in the Los Angeles area and the Lakers would give him the chance to play alongside his good friend Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers could be in position to sign both Anthony and LeBron James, although a more plausible scenario would be for the Lakers to add Anthony and re-sign Pau Gasol, who is being courted by the Heat, Thunder, Bulls and Knicks.
Anthony’s wife, La La, also would benefit from a move to Los Angeles since she is a budding actress and has appeared in several feature films.
Anthony has met with five teams since free agency opened on July 1, beginning with the Bulls on Tuesday, the Rockets and the Mavericks on Wednesday in Texas and the Lakers and the Knicks on Thursday in Los Angeles. Jackson offered Anthony the maximum allowable deal after saying publicly multiple times that the Knicks preferred the 30-year-old forward to return on a more cap-friendly deal .
According to the Los Angeles Times, executives from Anschutz Entertainment Group and Time Warner Cable pitched Anthony earlier Thursday on the LA market, including showing a four-minute trailer of Anthony’s life made by movie producer Joel Silver and narrated by actor Tobey Maguire.
Jackson has been working on making the Knicks an immediate contender in the Eastern Conference, hoping to impress Anthony and by upgrading at point guard by obtaining Jose Calderon from Dallas last week in a trade that shipped out Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Jackson also is trying to convince Gasol to accept a significant pay cut to play for former Lakers teammate and new Knicks coach Derek Fisher and to play alongside Calderon, his friend and teammate from the Spanish national team.