Chapter and verse on NBA free agency: Hope, faith, LeBron and Carmelo

The first few days of NBA free agency have seen plenty of action, though very little has actually happened

Jeremy Lin invoked a biblical verse this week when the Houston Rockets unveiled massive banners showing free agent target Carmelo Anthony wearing Lin's No. 7 outside the Toyota Center.

Lin was technically still a Rocket, though he presumably would be traded in any scenario in which Houston acquired Anthony or another high-end free agent.

Of course, that didn't make Lin feel any less slighted.

"Luke 6:29 – If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also," Lin tweeted. "If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them."

Maybe Lin was onto something. The first five days of free agency were largely an exercise in inertia, leaving front-office executives around the NBA somewhat humbled in their pursuit of Anthony, LeBron James and the handful of other transformative talents.

Here, then, are a few more verses to provide perspective in the week ahead, when Anthony and James could shift the balance of power throughout the league . . . or have rendered this all one giant trivial pursuit.

Hebrews 11:1 — Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

It initially seemed like no biggie.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would all opt out and restructure their contracts, allowing the Miami Heat to fortify its roster and ensure "The Heatles" remained intact.

Now it's looking more like the 2013-14 season may go down as their "Abbey Road," one final foray before everything fell apart.

What has been described as a disconnect among the Big Three over its plans has prompted teams to start lining up pitches to Bosh in case the trio decides to split up.

James reportedly wants a shortened maximum contract that would pay him $20.7 million next season, Anthony and Bosh haven't agreed to significant pay cuts, and Heat President Pat Riley hasn't made any tangible progress on the free-agent front.

Targets Kyle Lowry, Marcin Gortat and Spencer Hawes have agreed to sign elsewhere. The still-obtainable Pau Gasol and Luol Deng would have to take massive pay cuts to come aboard. On the plus side, Kris Humphries is still available!

Meanwhile, James' agent has been meeting with suitors in his Cleveland office, with Yahoo's always reliable Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that finalists could be invited back to meet with James himself in the coming days unless Riley quickly rejiggers the Heat's roster to James' liking.

So far, Miami has only Norris Cole under contract for next season.

We wouldn't want to be living the life of Riley right now.

Hebrews 13:5 — Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have . . .

Staying with the things-aren't-what-they-seemed theme, Anthony was widely thought to be more likely than James to uproot at the outset of free agency.

That sentiment was so last week.

Anthony now appears to be on the verge of staying put, with one report stating he may be willing to accept slightly less than a maximum contract to give New York Knicks President Phil Jackson more financial flexibility in summers to come.

The allure of keeping his family in place while playing for Jackson and new Coach Derek Fisher could be enough to stave off the lengthy list of suitors that includes the Lakers, Rockets and Chicago Bulls.

Matthew 11:28 — Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Rather than seriously consider offers from the Heat or wait for the eventual signings of James and Anthony to drive up their price among panicked general managers, Lowry and Gortat quickly ended the drama and agreed to re-sign with their respective teams.

Not that either player came cheap.

Lowry agreed to a four-year, $48-million contract, while Gortat's contract will pay him $60 million over five years. Money, and loyalty, won out over the pure pursuit of rings.

James 1:2 — Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.

The Lakers are readying Plans B, C and D, right?

Considered longshots in the pursuit of Anthony, to say nothing of their holy-grail quest for James, the Lakers might want to come up with another alternative besides waiting for Kevin Durant or Kevin Love to fall into their lap someday.

And we're not talking about going after Gasol, Nick Young or Kent Bazemore. We've seen the ending to that movie and it doesn't fade to black atop a parade float on Figueroa.

No, the Lakers need to aggressively pursue the best of what's left if they strike out on their top targets. We're talking about Lance Stephenson, Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe.

It's their only prayer to do anything meaningful in what are likely to be Kobe Bryant's final two seasons.

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