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LeBron James, Lakers’ biggest threat in signing Carmelo Anthony

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Lakers, Knicks

The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James could welcome Carmelo Anthony to their team for the first time. The New York Knicks could welcome Melo back to the Big Apple and Madison Square Garden for a reunion. Either way, this would be a headline-generating event in the NBA… and Marc Stein thinks it’s possible.

Stein, reporting from his Substack website, said Melo is considering the Lakers and Knicks in NBA free agency, which would end his brief tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers spent much of Monday playing the hits and bringing back former players. Dwight Howard returned to the Lake Show, an acknowledgment that his defense and rebounding were missed this past season. Howard was certainly a valuable part of L.A.’s run to the 2020 NBA title in the Orlando bubble, with Howard winning an NBA title in the same city where his NBA career began, with the Magic.

The Lakers beat Howard and the Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals. A member of that Laker team was Trevor Ariza. Rob Pelinka signed him in addition to Howard on Monday.

In addition to this reunion tour with veterans who had previously played for the franchise, the Lakers have already added a big-name player on the downslope of his career. Russell Westbrook, who is clearly past his prime, wants to go all-in to win a ring with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He isn’t the same player he once was, but the Purple and Gold clearly don’t think he has to be his 2012 or 2016 self to contribute to a championship run. Otherwise, Pelinka wouldn’t have made a play for him on the trade market.

We will see if the Lakers feel the same way about Carmelo Anthony, who — like Westbrook — is still looking for that elusive first NBA title. LeBron and Melo are friends, so that would naturally be a point of interest if the Lake Show made something happen.

However, seeing Melo limit the Blazers when he was on the floor — due to his limited defensive capacity as he ages — could certainly scare the Lakers away from him. We’ll see what happens there.

The Lakers are part of this story, but so are the Knicks. New York has underwhelmed in the draft and the first few hours of free agency. Bringing back Melo would create some feelings of nostalgia, but it’s really hard to see how Melo would increase the odds of the Knicks winning an NBA title or at least making a deeper run in the East than they made in 2021.

One could very reasonably make the case that this is a free agency battle neither team should want to win — let the other one have Melo, if that’s how it has to be. Stay tuned for more on this fascinating free-agency drama.