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Lakers Emerge as Heavy Favorite to Sign Carmelo Anthony After the NBA Trade Deadline

Carmelo Anthony shoots around with Team USA
Carmelo Anthony during happier times with Team USA. Photo by Tim Shelby (Wikimedia Commons) CC License)
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are heavily favored to sign Carmelo Anthony following the NBA Trade Deadline
  • Who will the Lakers dump to make room for Melo?
  • Will LeBron push Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson to make the move?

Carmelo Anthony might want to start looking at real estate listings in Brentwood.

The 10-time All-Star is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers following the NBA’s February 7th Trade Deadline according to the latest odds at Bovada. The online sportsbook has the Lakers as the heavy favorites, but also lists the Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat, Phildelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards as other possible landing spots for Melo.

Odds on Where Carmelo Anthony Will Play After the NBA Trade Deadline

Where Will Carmelo Anthony Play After the NBA Trade Deadline? Odds at Bovada (01/24/19)
Los Angeles Lakers -200
Portland Trail Blazers +450
Miami Heat +500
Philadelphia 76ers +600
Detroit Pistons +900
San Antonio Spurs +900
Washington Wizards +2000

How Did We End Up Here?

Carmelo Anthony has been bouncing around like a ping pong ball since July 25th when he was sent from the Thunder to the Hawks as part of an unwieldy five-player, three-team trade. Atlanta waived him five days later, leaving Melo to wander the basketball wastelands until August 13th, when he signed as a free agent with Houston.

The four-time Olympian appeared in 10 games with the Rockets, but didn’t pan out as hoped and was sent home for good on November 10th, leading some sportsbooks to speculate that Carmelo Anthony would end up playing in China.

The Rockets finally did right by Melo on January 22nd when they traded him to the Bulls along with Jon Diebler and cash. The deal generated a few feel-good headlines, but Chicago quickly made it clear that they have no intention of playing Anthony and will either try to trade him again or waive him.

For those of you keeping track at home, that’s four franchises in just seven months. It isn’t an NBA record, but it certainly isn’t how Anthony imagined his season unfolding way back in July.

Does LeBron Actually Want Carmelo?

That’s an interesting question. LeBron James has been a vocal advocate for his friend and former Olympic teammate, defending his legacy at every turn. He’s even said he would like to play with Anthony in LA, but made it clear that he won’t force the issue with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.

LeBron’s approach is interesting because he’s never been shy about meddling in trades and player acquisitions in the past. His fingerprints were all over the myriad deals made by the Heat and Cavs during his tenure with both clubs, and there’s no doubt that his relationship with former teammate James Jones played a big role in the Lakers landing Tyson Chandler earlier this season.

If LeBron really wanted to play with Melo, Anthony would already be in LA.

What Would the Lakers Have to Do to Sign Carmelo?

There’s the rub. The Lakers would have to cut a player from their active roster to make room for Anthony. A few weeks ago Ivica Zubac seemed like a likely candidate, but that was before he turned into the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon. The 21-year-old pivot has averaged 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last three games and has emerged as one of the most promising young bigs in the league.

The Lakers might consider axing Michael Beasley or Lance Stephenson, but both players are considerably younger than Anthony and already have clearly defined roles on the team. LA wouldn’t miss them in the long run as they’re both signed to one-year contracts, but they’ve done everything Luke Walton has asked of them and are well-liked in the locker room.

Can Carmelo Anthony Still Contribute?

Define “contribute”. If your idea of contributing means knocking down 40% of your jump shots without playing a lick of defense, then yes, Carmelo Anthony can still contribute. However, if you’re looking for a player that can score efficiently, crash the glass, and defend his position then Anthony is most certainly not your man.

The 34 -year-old hasn’t shot above 40% from the field or 35% from beyond the arc since 2017, and has seen his rebound and assist totals decrease steadily in each of the last  four seasons. His player efficiency rating also plummeted to 11.2 during his brief stint with the Rockets while his defensive rating shot up to 115. Those are embarrassing numbers for any player, yet alone one whom many consider to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Is Melo LA Bound?

Anthony would love to end up in Los Angeles, but we’re not sold on the fit. We’re putting our money instead on the Trail Blazers, who are in dire need of scoring from their second unit. Portland ranks a distant 21st in the NBA in bench scoring at 34.6 points per game, and would benefit from the instant offense that Anthony is theoretically capable of providing. The six-time All-NBA selection could also start occasionally for Maurice Harkless, who’s been in and out of the lineup all season with lingering knee issues.

Portland ranks a distant 21st in the NBA in bench scoring at 34.6 points per game, and would benefit from the instant offense that Anthony is theoretically capable of providing.

As an added bonus, management wouldn’t need to sell the idea to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, since both stars have urged the team to acquire Melo in the past, and their interest in Anthony hasn’t wavered in spite of his declining production.

Melo to the Blazers just makes sense. Bank on it.

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