While some of the biggest names in the NBA have been churned through the rumor mill in recent weeks, one future Hall of Fame forward remains without a team in free agency: Carmelo Anthony, who was a Laker last year. He could yet remain one, but don’t expect it to happen quickly.
One NBA general manager told Heavy Sports he expects Anthony to re-sign with the Lakers. “They have a lot to sort out obviously,” the GM said. “But as more things get set, they’ll probably get back around to bringing him in. It’s just, at this point, you don’t know what might happen with Westbrook and whether you might need to take on players, so you see that around the league a lot—teams have 10, 11, 12 players signed and there’s no hurry to fill in the last spots until you see how the other stuff plays out.”
The Lakers currently have 13 of their 15 roster spots filled, per Spotrac They have both of their two-way contract spots filled, one by Scotty Pippen Jr. and the other by Cole Swider. L.A. also added two Exhibit-10 players, Javante McCoy and Fabian White, and though they might stick with the G-League team, they’re longshots to be on the final roster.
Is Darvin Ham the Key to a Carmelo Anthony Return?
Heavy Sports NBA insider Steve Bulpett says the likelihood of Anthony staying put could rest with coach Darvin Ham. The team has made an effort to get younger this offseason, but Ham could seek some veteran stability on the back end of the rotation.
“I think he’s one of the guys who will be one of the last pieces to be decided,” Bulpett said in a video interview. “When teams finish making or finding out what moves they can or, maybe more important, cannot make this summer, and they are getting ready for the season, it’s, ‘OK, this is what our roster looks like.’ There’s a player out here, but does he fit with what you’re trying to do? I think it’s going to take a while for Carmelo, unless Darvin Ham says, ‘Yes, I see a role for this guy and I want him.’ At this point, Carmelo is coming in at a reasonable number.
Anthony, who is 38, averaged 13.3 points on 37.5% shooting from the 3-point line. He had a terrific start to the season, making 39.3% of his 3s in his first 51 games, but closed with a slump, shooting just 31.5% from the arc in his final 18 games.
Knicks, Nets, Warriors Also Possible
There remain a couple of other possibilities for Anthony. The Knicks are most often mentioned, but one could be the Brooklyn Nets, if the team ultimately decides against trading Kevin Durant. Already, word is out that Kyrie Irving is willing to stay put and play in Brooklyn next season, and if the same happens with Durant, signing Anthony could be a way of making peace with the team’s stars. Irving and Durant wanted the Nets to sign Anthony in 2019 when he was a free agent, but Brooklyn ultimately decided against it.
“The possibility is there for that because Anthony, maybe he can contribute but his (salary) number would not be very big. If you’re Brooklyn, that is the positive,” Bulpett said.
The Nets are projected to have a luxury tax bill of almost $100 million next season. Another team with a big bill ahead of it is the defending-champ Warriors, who have 12 roster spots filled. Might the Warriors give Anthony a shot?
“It would be a nice story, if he could win a ring there to end his career,” the GM said. “Golden State has the room for him. He can make shots and they can hide up his defense, which is one of the big problems with adding him. He’d take the minimum. They have a lot of young guys on that roster, they could do with another veteran and those guys all know Carmelo from Team USA. I do not know if they would really take that plunge on him, but it does make some sense.”