When Carmelo Anthony became a free agent in 2014, the Los Angeles Lakers made his short list of prospective teams. Hell, new teammate Kent Bazemore was let go to chase the perennial all-star. Anthony may not come when you want, but he’s always on time.
When Melo was out of the league in 2018, he was again linked to the Lakers. There just was too much pressure at that time. LeBron James had just arrived in Los Angeles. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were working to turn them into the contenders that they are today. Melo had not yet found and reinvented himself.
I had Melo pencilled to the Lakers as soon as the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers season ended. The eventual trade of Kyle Kuzma was already in the works, which led to them losing their offensive creativity from the wing and post. How could they not sign Melo? Luckily, the Lakers needs outweighed those of the Blazers. They were proactive in securing Melo’s services, which earned his commitment. The Lakers presented an opportunity when it appeared that Portland had moved on. Melo spoke to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes about his decision:
“I found myself sitting around and waiting on Portland […] I didn’t want to talk to nobody yet, I’m just going to see what, you know, Portland does, see what happens, see what they say […] Do they want to bring me back? Do they want to move on? I made that almost like a home for me within two years, I just felt like I was part of that community.”
The structure of James, Anthony Davis, and Frank Vogel is an underrated thing for the Lakers. When healthy and available, they’ve had their share of working with vets and being successful. Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and James himself got to reap the benefits of that power structure. With the leadership and situation aligning, they are ready for a Melo arrival.
Anthony is a veteran that has seen every offensive set and defensive look you can imagine. Yes, he’s of age and mileage, but I consider this a last hurrah. And this time, the stakes are high and it’s his last shot at completing one of the NBA’s most impressive resumes. When a player has this kind of shot, they’re poised to sacrifice and even achieve the most. Melo reiterated this in his Haynes interview:
“The only thing I don’t have is a championship,” Anthony told Yahoo Sports. “I’ve won at every level. [If I signed somewhere else], I had to really come to grips and say, ‘If I walk away [from the game without a title], I’m cool.’ Now that I’m with the Lakers, it’s a must have. There’s no question about it. We gotta get it. It’s go time now. I gotta think about it every second of the day.”
With Melo’s goal aligning with that of the Lakers, that’s good news for fans. We always talk about exceptionalism and now is the time to truly embrace. This is a roster with, arguably, some of the best players at their positions, currently and all-time. They’re coming into a year after a big disappointment last season. The arrival of Carmelo Anthony is just the icing on the cake that’s needed for them to lock in. It’s now or never for them all — at least as a competitive nugget. Now the Lakers and Melo can do what they’ve always wanted to do, and that’s for each other a ring.