In a surprising twist, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as the team that most worries the New York Knicks in their attempt to re-sign superstar free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.

While the Knicks remain confident in their chances to convince Anthony to return to the Big Apple, the Lakers' pitch -- of teaming Anthony with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and prized rookie Julius Randle on a team with no long-term salary obligations -- made what one source described as a "strong impression" on Anthony, who is living and training in L.A. this summer, and has made his decision over the holiday weekend "tough," according to another source close to the situation.

Los Angeles met with LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, on Friday, and the four-time MVP is giving similar consideration to what the Lakers have to offer, according to sources.

Gasol has emerged as a key selling point for the Lakers. While the Spaniard has been listening to pitches from championship contenders who lack much financial flexibility, such as Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Miami and Chicago, sources believe he would quickly re-sign with the Lakers if they are able to land Anthony or James.

ESPN reported Thursday that the Lakers made it clear to Anthony, who is living and training in L.A. this summer, they'd offer him the maximum four-year, $97 million contract they can, if he were to choose them. That's less than the five-year, $129 million offer the Knicks have verbally pitched to Anthony. The Lakers also made it clear to James they'd offer him the maximum they could, sources said.

However, there are also scenarios in which both James and Anthony could come to the Lakers if each was willing to play for around $16 million per season, especially if the Heat and Knicks were willing to work a sign-and-trade with them.

ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley reported Saturday that the Knicks were feeling "positive" about their chances of re-signing Anthony, after a source said the free agent received Knicks president Phil Jackson's message "well" during their meeting on Thursday evening.