Carmelo Anthony didn't give reporters at Knicks media day today any insight into his potential free agency next summer, but a source close to the six-time All-Star tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that Kobe Bryant may influence where Anthony plays next season. Bryant could be the "X-factor" in Anthony's decision-making, Isola writes, and if Bryant invites Anthony to chase a title with him, the Knicks may lose their superstar.
Anthony can opt out of his contract next summer, and Bryant is entering the final season of his deal with the Lakers. Even though new Knicks president Steve Mills is clear about his desire to have Anthony back, while the Lakers are holding off on negotiations with Bryant, L.A. seems a far more likely setting than New York if the two are to play together. Bryant isn't eager to take a pay cut on his league-high $30.5MM salary, and it would be virtually impossible for him to change teams next summer without significantly reducing his salary. The Lakers have Bryant's Bird rights and they'll have plenty of cap room available next summer to sign Anthony or another marquee free agent.
Still, both players are nine months away from free agency, and neither of them have dropped any hints themselves about a desire to play together, so there are no strong indications that Anthony will be switching coasts. Much also hinges on another could-be free agent, LeBron James, and where he decides to play, but Anthony's future figures to be a consistent storyline all season.