NBA free agency 2014: Lakers 'serious contender' for Carmelo Anthony, according to report

Jeff Gross

Are the Lakers pulling into the lead for Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony met with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, and the team reportedly made a "major impact" on his decision-making process, according to Grantland's Bill Simmons. Los Angeles is considered a "serious contender" to land the superstar free agent, as confirmed by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

The race to land Anthony is heating up as he is expected to make a decision in the coming days. Anthony is reportedly preparing to make his decision after the holiday weekend, though there is no "official" timetable for him to announce which team he intends to sign with.

The Lakers ability to offer a maximum contract worth four-years, $97 milliion without making any additional roster moves is one of the factors drawing Anthony to Los Angeles.

The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are still considered frontrunners, but Los Angeles has seemingly wedged itself into the conversation. The reports point to the Lakers having a serious shot at signing Anthony, but this could also be a power play by Anthony's camp to gain leverage on his other destinations.

For the Knicks, the Lakers becoming a threat could force them to adjust their pitch and offer the absolute maximum contract to retain his services. If Anthony really is considering the Lakers, this could also lead Knicks president of basketball operations to seek out a sign-and-trade to acquire assets instead of losing him without any return.

For the Bulls, this could be a sign they must improve their contract offer or risk losing their shot at him. The Bulls reportedly offered Anthony a four-year deal worth approximately $16 million per year, a significantly-less figure than what both the Knicks and Lakers have offered.

The report the Lakers gained traction following their meeting has been confirmed by Simmons, Wojnaroski, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and ESPN's John Ireland.

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