Hard to believe, but Lakers reserve Carmelo Anthony is heading into his 19th NBA season this year. It’s his first with the Lakers and the second full year in which he will primarily be used off the bench, after starting just three of his 69 games in Portland last season.
Despite that reduced role and despite his age—Anthony is 37 and will turn 38 in May when, hopefully, the Lakers will be in the midst of a deep playoff run—Anthony says he is not considering bowing out of the game. Not, at least, while he still feels so strongly about basketball.
“I am still passionate about the game of basketball,” Anthony said this week. “I love it. But I’m still passionate about it. The minute that I lose that passion, the minute that I am forced to wake up in the bed and say, ‘Damn, I gotta go to practice,’ that’s when it is over. That’s when I’ll be going.”
It helps that Anthony is playing for a team that, for the first time in his long career, has a genuine chance to win a championship. Anthony has been on a team that won a playoff series only twice in his career, and only once has been to the conference finals (with Denver in 2009). He is entering this year with a different feeling.
“Not every year is the same,” Anthony said. “You come into a training camp and you’re like, ‘Damn, gotta get through it.’ But also you have those moments where, like now, where it’s like, we’re excited. I’m self-motivated, I try to get myself going. But when you’re in this type of environment with the people we have around here, it’s different, it’s a different energy, it gives you a different motivation aside from what you already have within yourself.”
Carmelo Anthony: Lakers ‘Will FIgure it Out’
So far, the energy around the Lakers has been positive because of the big-name talent they’ve added to the LeBron James-Anthony Davis core—likely Hall of Famers Russell Westbrook, Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, plus role players like DeAndre Jordan, Kendrick Nunn, Wayne Ellington and Malik Monk. The results, though, have been poor. The Lakers went 0-6 in the preseason.
Not to worry, according to Anthony.
“We have too much experience on this team to think anything other than we will figure it out, or we’re going to figure it out,” Anthony said. “It will take time. It will take time for everybody, not just us. Other teams around the league, teams that been together, teams that haven’t been together. It’s the beginning of the season—some teams are gonna jump out there and get off to a hot start, some teams are not. Some teams are going to have those moments to figure it out. I think our basketball IQ, our talent, our skill, for the most part, will get us there. The cohesiveness will take us over the top.”
Melo Sees Logic in Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Trade
Anthony was asked about his assessment of the Lakers’ trade that brought Westbrook to Los Angeles, a deal that set into motion a wild offseason for L.A., which saw an overhaul of the roster. Only James, Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker remain from last year’s disappointing team, which struggled with injuries and was ousted in the postseason by the Suns.
Many have been critical of the Westbrook addition, pointing out that Westbrook’s inability to shoot from the perimeter makes him a bad fit with James. Anthony disagreed with the notion that the pairing does not make sense—and added that he knew once it happened that the Lakers would be looking to fill out the roster in a big way, a process that wound up with him landing in L.A., too.
“I don’t see why it wouldn’t make sense from a basketball standpoint,” Anthony said. “I think people kind of overthink it, try to overanalyze it. It is what it is. It’s basketball players, two great minds coming together. So that’s what I thought. I didn’t react to it at first, to be honest, because it was just—I know how this works. When one piece like that works, then you gotta fill it in, you gotta make it work, you gotta make it a whole picture. So, I was just waiting for the rollout to see what was happening next. I know how it operates. You go get Russ, you gotta make a team, you gotta put a team together.”