Sportress of Blogitude

Kobe Bryant returns from Europe to help Lakers make pitch to Carmelo Anthony

Lakers' Kobe Bryant talks with Knicks' Carmelo Anthony as the Lakers lead the Knicks during second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

It remains to be seen whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers will follow suit and use digitally altered billboards, signage and whatnot to tempt Carmelo Anthony and help convince him that L.A. is the place to be in free agency, but then again, when a team can bring in a big gun to help make the pitch, it certainly does not hurt.

Both the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets used signs and billboards on and inside their arenas showing Melo in the teams’ respective uniforms as a means to recruit Anthony. Both teams also utilized the presence of their star players to make their respective free agency pitches, but neither the Bulls nor the Rockets have one Kobe Bryant.

Bryant reportedly returned from Europe late Wednesday night so he can be present when Anthony’s free agent tour makes a stop in La La Land. The two have enjoyed a long friendship, something that could help sway Carmelo when making his final decision.

The Lakers apparently are enamored with the prospect of pairing Carmelo and Kobe and believe the two have games that will complement the other.

It is expected that a Lakers contingent consisting of general manager Mitch Kupchak, president Jeannie Buss, among others —  perhaps most importantly, Kobe — will meet with Anthony on Thursday in L.A. at an undisclosed location.

Add the duo’s scoring punch to an anchor in the paint like Pau Gasol —  the Lakers reportedly still want to keep the big man in the fold  and met with him on the first day of free agency — and that’s a pretty potent lineup.

The Lakers have made Anthony and LeBron James their primary targets this summer, but James and his agent, Rich Paul, have yet to schedule any formal meetings between King James and any team, although the Lakers reportedly have contacted Paul.

Ultimately, the Lakers do have a pretty compelling card to play in Kobe Bryant — for both Melo and LeBron — in its pursuit of both players. Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.