Together at last: Carmelo joins LeBron’s Lakers to seek ring

Aug 3, 2021, 12:58 PM | Updated: Aug 4, 2021, 2:02 am

Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have dreamed about teaming up in the NBA since they entered the league together 18 years ago.

They’re finally getting the chance on the remarkably mature new roster of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 37-year-old Anthony agreed to a one-year deal with the Lakers on Tuesday, agent Aaron Mintz confirmed to The Associated Press.

The 10th-leading scorer in NBA history will join James, the third-leading scorer, alongside eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis and former MVP Russell Westbrook for what should be a fascinating season in Los Angeles.

If the Lakers don’t win another NBA title, they’ll at least be strong candidates for gold medals in London: They’ll have one-third of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team’s roster in purple and gold, with fellow Olympian Kobe Bryant’s retired numbers watching from above the Staples Center floor.

Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, essentially told the world about the deal earlier on social media by posting a video with his nickname, “Melo,” and the Lakers logo. Free agent deals can’t become official until Friday, but Anthony can’t wait to get started on what might be his last, best chance to win an NBA title.

Anthony and James have been friends since high school, and they were part of the star-studded 2003 draft class. James went first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers out of high school, while Anthony was the third pick by the Denver Nuggets after leading Syracuse to its first NCAA title.

Anthony joins his seventh team as he enters his 19th season. He averaged 13.4 points and made 40.9% of his 3-pointers coming off the bench for Portland last season, revitalizing his career over the past two seasons in Oregon by proving he can contribute to a solid team as a reserve.

He averaged 13.4 points while hitting a career-best 40.9% of his 3-pointers — a skill that will be hugely valuable to James, Davis and the Lakers, whose supporting cast of spot-up shooters has largely struggled for the past two seasons.

The Lakers also are losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Montrezl Harrell, Markieff Morris and likely Dennis Schröder in a wholesale roster overhaul.

The Lakers won the NBA title in 2020 with a versatile roster built around James and Davis, but they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Phoenix this summer when both of their superstars struggled with injuries.

Instead of running it back with largely the same cast and hoping for better health, the Lakers have made major changes while doubling down on the super-team concept that has boosted James throughout his career.

They haven’t worried about long-term planning for the moves, either: The Lakers could have eight players age 32 or older on their opening night roster.

Anthony will be the oldest — but James, Marc Gasol and Trevor Ariza are all 36. They’re all older than 35-year-old Dwight Howard, who is reportedly returning for his third stint in LA.

Wayne Ellington says he is returning to the Lakers at 33 to provide outside shooting acumen, while 32-year-olds Kent Bazemore and Westbrook are also on their way back to LA — Westbrook is a native, while Bazemore played for the Lakers in 2014.

The Lakers kept the youngest piece of their core Tuesday by re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $32 million deal. Horton-Tucker, a second-round pick who appears to be a blossoming talent, averaged 9.0 points with 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game last season.

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Lakers are also adding Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk to play supporting roles.

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AP Sports Writer Joe Reedy in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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Together at last: Carmelo joins LeBron’s Lakers to seek ring