In their story about Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder working on figuring out a way for the two sides to part, either via a trade, buyout or by using the stretch provision on his contract, Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN also reported that the Los Angeles Lakers will be an option for Melo once he’s no longer one of Paul George and Russell Westbrook’s Thunder buddies:
Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist, would be pursued vigorously among contenders on the free-agent market. The Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers are among multiple teams expected to express interest in Anthony, sources tell ESPN.
The first thing worth noting here is that this report is concerning the Lakers signing Anthony, not trading for him, making him a far more sensible and palatable acquisition. The Lakers by no means should be giving up anything for Anthony and his gargantuan deal, but getting him for just money is a decent option.
The team also likely wouldn’t have to pay much for Anthony, given that he will likely be getting most of, if not his entire, $27.9 million contract for the 2018-19 NBA season, meaning he won’t be asking for huge money.
The Thunder not wanting to pay an estimated extra $100 million (including luxury taxes) for Anthony is very different from him not being a useful player for the Lakers to sign for the veteran’s minimum, or even their $5ish million in remaining cap space.
Anthony has his faults, but some of the narratives about him never changing his iso-over-everything style of play (that even your’s truly has fallen prey to at times) might be a little outdated, as outlined expertly by Cranjis McBasketball on Twitter:
Guys. Wake up.— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) July 6, 2018
Melo increased his spot ups this year by 65% over his last year in NY
Roll Man 290% of what it was previously
Iso down 15%
PnR Ball Handler down 30%. Handoffs down 78%.
That's just this year to last year. He's changed throughout his career. https://t.co/qNAD8cwTjv
Melo's offensive style similarity score this year and last year isn't even high enough to consider him a high style match WITH HIMSELF. He has changed and can change.— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) July 6, 2018
Kuz will continue to get better, but there’s a decent chance Melo is a better defender this season.— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) July 6, 2018
And his offense, if deployed correctly, should outweigh poor defense
Perhaps most notable is how much less Anthony is isolating:
"Carmelo has never changed and will never change" pic.twitter.com/AzJ4t01f2m— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) July 6, 2018
Would Anthony sign up for a limited role alongside his good friend and banana boat buddy LeBron James? It seems like Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and James could make a compelling pitch in terms of role and who he’d be getting to play with, even if Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets and Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat (if Wade isn’t L.A. bound as well) could also appeal to Anthony’s sensibilities.
Anthony finally making good on his long-rumored interest in the Lakers is still a long ways from being a guarantee, but with today’s events, it seems like far more of a possibility than it has since he nearly left the New York Knicks to join up with Kobe Bryant.
Playing with players he’s friendly with and respects seems to matter to Anthony, and if the Lakers could get him to channel his “Olympic Melo” stylings in a more limited role alongside James, they could make far worse signings for the minimum or slightly more.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.