The latest of Laker star team-ups is one long in the making.
Carmelo Anthony, 37, is joining the Lakers for a one-year deal, adding a veteran scoring presence that has notched over 27,000 points, 10 All-Star appearances and three Olympic gold medals – but no NBA Finals appearance yet.
The long-rumored move was first reported by ESPN, but Anthony confirmed it himself on his social media accounts, superimposing a Lakers’ “L” onto his “Melo” brand logo. It will team two of the biggest names and close friends from the legendary 2003 NBA draft – Anthony and LeBron James – for the first time in their careers.
Anthony isn’t the only addition announced early Tuesday afternoon: The Lakers also added Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk, 23, who averaged 11.7 points per game in his fourth season, but who Charlotte did not extend as his rookie deal ran out.
Anthony is the biggest name to join the Lakers so far this offseason, though he is a profoundly different player from his prime. While James, who was selected two spots ahead of him in the draft, is still a franchise player for the Lakers just a year removed from a Finals MVP, Anthony was chiefly a reserve for the Portland Trail Blazers the last two seasons, averaging 13.4 ppg while shooting 40.9% from 3-point range.
James and Anthony have been close since they were prep phenoms, touted as young prospects, viewed as rivals for greatness, then teammates on three Olympic teams and spending chunks of the offseason together. James told Bleacher Report in 2016: “I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together.”
James said he was “open” to the possibility in 2018 during a season the Lakers ultimately missed the playoffs, but it did not materialize even though Anthony was unsigned at the time.
Anthony joins an aging roster, now with eight players committed who are 32 or older. Center Marc Gasol confirmed his intention to return to Los Angeles late Monday night after Team USA had eliminated his Spanish team from the Olympics in Tokyo.
Monk becomes one of the youngest players on the Lakers’ roster, pending the possible return of 20-year-old restricted free agent Talen Horton-Tucker. The Kentucky product was the 11th overall draft pick in the 2017 draft, and shot 40.1% on threes last season.
ESPN reported that the Lakers still have their taxpayer midlevel exception, worth up to $5.9 million, available, but as of Tuesday afternoon, a few targets had dried up as forward Rudy Gay signed with the Utah Jazz, while guard Patty Mills agreed to terms with the Brooklyn Nets.
Two players from last year’s roster moved as of Tuesday: Center Andre Drummond agreed to terms with the Philadelphia 76ers (effectively changing places with Lakers signee Dwight Howard) and guard Ben McLemore agreed to a deal with Portland.
Several Lakers free agents are still up in the air: Horton-Tucker, Dennis Schröder, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris and Jared Dudley.
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