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Monday, November 25, 2013
How Kobe's deal affects Melo

By Ian Begley

Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant are close friends.

They've won gold medals together and played alongside one another on All-Star teams.

Anthony has leaned on Bryant for advice during rough patches in his tenure in New York, particularly when he was being crushed by fans and media during Jeremy Lin's rise to stardom. He also sought Kobe's advice in the wake of Mike D'Antoni's resignation.

Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony
Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony at the 2013 NBA All Star Game.
So, if we had to guess, Anthony probably sent a congratulatory text, email or phone call to Bryant on Monday after Bryant agreed to a two-year contract extension to remain with the Lakers.

The extension means Bryant will likely end his brilliant career with the same franchise he started with in 1996 -- a dream scenario for many athletes.

Kobe's new contract, though, will also have implications on Anthony's future. And those implications may bode well for the Knicks.

Bryant, according to ESPN.com, signed a two-year $48 million extension.

That contract eats up valuable cap space for the Lakers.

And it may make Los Angeles a less appealing destination for Anthony this summer. Why?

Los Angeles simply won't have a lot of money to build a championship-caliber roster around Byrant and Anthony in light of Kobe's deal.

ESPN.com salary expert Larry Coon breaks down the Lakers salary cap situation in the wake of Bryant's extension well here.

According to Coon, with Bryant now on the books for $23.5 million next season, the Lakers could have approximately $22.2 million in cap space in 2014. That's assuming the cap next season is set at $64 million and the Lakers let all of their free agents (including Pau Gasol) walk after this year.

If he signs a max contract, Anthony will be eligible to make up to $22,458,401 in 2014, according to Coon. The Lakers would have to make some roster moves -- such as waiving Elias Harris (non-guaranteed contract) and getting rid of Steve Nash via the stretch provision -- to create enough space for Anthony to ink a max deal.

According to Coon, if the Lakers remove Harris and Nash from the roster, they will have $28.46 million in cap space. This would allow them to sign Anthony to a max contract (4 years, $96 million) and add a free agent at approximately the mid-level amount, per Coon. They may also be able to use the room mid-level exception ($2.7 million) to sign another player.

But that's it.

This scenario would leave Los Angeles with Bryant, Anthony, a first-round pick and two other free agents on the roster. They'd have to fill out the remaining roster spots with free agents willing to sign veteran's minimum contracts.

Would that be enough to entice Anthony to leave New York?

The Knicks can offer Anthony a deal that's one year longer and worth $33 million more than any other team.

They can't offer Anthony the chance to play with another superstar like Bryant, though.

But you have to wonder how Bryant plays when he returns from his Achilles injury. Will Kobe still be Kobe next season, at age 36 and one year removed from major surgery?

These are things Anthony will have to think about when he ponders his next move this summer. But there's no question that Kobe's extension changes the landscape in Los Angeles for the Knicks' star.

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