Following the Russell Westbrook trade, the Los Angeles Lakers need inexpensive veterans. Ideally, they'd like these players to defend and shoot threes, but their options are limited. That said, two notable seasoned vets, namely LeBron James' old pal Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay, have been linked to L.A.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, while conducting a Q&A on the B/R app, shared that Gay and Anthony “are definitely the loudest names being rumored to the Lakers,” ahead of free agency, which begins Aug. 2.
The Anthony-Lakers buzz has been constant this summer. James and Anthony have long wanted to team up outside of Team USA and All-Star Weekend, and it's hard to imagine LeBron not advocating for a Melo signing. As we can glean from reporting around the Westbrook trade — and developments of the past two seasons or LeBron's entire career — James tends to get the guys he wants.
Anthony can help the Lakers. He's not Buddy Hield, but he did shoot a career-best 40.9% from three on a respectable 4.7 attempts per game in 2020-21. For the fourth time in 18 seasons, he finished with an eFG% above .500. His rebounding has declined and his defense is what it is, but the Lakers should be fine in those departments.
Beyond the locker room value, Melo would help Westbrook and the offense hum during the minutes LeBron is off the floor, which has been a crippling Achilles heel for the Lakers the past two seasons.
In just 5 MINUTES of first quarter action…
Carmelo dropped 12 PTS on 4/5 FG and 3/3 from three 💸
— Overtime (@overtime) May 23, 2021
Gay, 34, is coming off four steady seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, the past two as a top-notch bench contributor. He shot 50.8% on two-pointers in San Antonio and averaged 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. He's become a more respectable three-point shooter (38.1% in 2020-21) and defender (at 6'8″, 250) than folks realize.
Both veterans bring similar things to the table, so the Lakers may have to choose. They still need a starting center, starting two-guard, and multiple shooters. Money is tight.
Depending on what happens with Dennis Schroder, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Alex Caruso in free agency — which itself is dependent on the Lakers' ability to swing a sign-and-trade and their luxury tax flexibility — Los Angeles will only have the minimum to offer Melo and/or Gay, unless they break up their midlevel exception (~$10 million). The Lakers want to retain Wesley Matthews and Markieff Morris — one using the veteran exception.
Gay's Spurs teammate, DeMar DeRozan, won't play for that cheap, but he's still a star-caliber player. To Anthony and Gay, the Lakers may offer their last, best chance at a ring.