It took over a year, but it finally happened: Carmelo Anthony is back in the NBA. The 35-year-old signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and few people are happier for Anthony than Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James.
Moments Anthony’s deal was reported, James and Dwyane Wade — two of Anthony’s closest friends in the NBA — took to Twitter to share the relief that a team finally took a chance on Anthony:
I use the word “relief” because it was far from a guarantee that Anthony would play in the NBA again. Even James himself had doubt, but he’s glad Anthony is on an NBA roster again — even if that roster isn’t in Los Angeles with him.
“I think everyone had doubt. Including himself, probably,” James said after shootaround on Friday. “I always hoped that he would get an opportunity. When his name was brought up with us I hoped that opportunity presented itself as well. When we had our injuries I was hoping he could come be a part of here, and it didn’t happen for whatever reason. But I’m happy that he has the opportunity to go back and play the game that he loves to play.”
James made it known that he would have liked Anthony on the Lakers last season, and according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN from March, they nearly did. However, once it became clear that the Lakers weren’t going to compete for a playoff spot, those talks stalled and never picked up again.
While it would have been cool to see one of the all-time great scorers suit up in a Lakers uniform, Anthony’s not the type of player the team needed then and his first with this year’s roster is just as iffy. Hopefully Anthony has a career revival in Portland the same way Dwight Howard has with Los Angeles because the league is better with Melo in it.