Should the Lakers be interested in Carmelo Anthony after playoff series?

Carmelo Anthony vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
Carmelo Anthony vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers saw a lot of Carmelo Anthony firsthand.

The Los Angeles Lakers dropped Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers and followed suit with four straight wins to conduct a gentleman’s sweep. Two of those four wins were filed under the blowout category.

The red-hot Blazers were one of the best stories of the NBA bubble but they just did not have the overall talent to match up with the Lakers. Zach Collins was out before the series even began and Damian Lillard got banged up and missed Game 5.

However, the Lakers still played fantastic perimeter defense, highlighted by Alex Caruso, and showcased why they should be the favorites to win the NBA Title.

One fun subplot from this series was the battle between Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James — two players that will forever be intertwined as they came into the league together and have been good friends since.

And while LeBron was obviously the better player in this series, Carmelo was not too shabby either. Melo averaged 15.2 points, five rebounds and two assists in 35.2 minutes per game. More importantly, he made 42.1 percent of his three-point shots.

Carmelo is a free agent in this upcoming offseason and after practically not playing an entire season he has proven that he still has value in the league. Will the Los Angeles Lakers, the last team to see him first-hand, see this value and pursue Melo as a free-agent target in the offseason?

Let’s break it down.

The case for Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers

It is crazy how much a year can change things. We have seen that in the real world in 2020 but we have also witnessed that with Carmelo Anthony. One year ago Anthony was not a valuable asset and many wondered how much longer his NBA career would last.

Since then he has proven that he does still have value in the league and he is willing to take a lesser role, something that was questionable before he signed with Portland. Melo still played 32.8 minutes per game in Portland, but he was easily the third, sometimes the fourth option on the court.

Staying in Portland is a good fit for Carmelo, but if he wants to add the one thing he has not accomplished in his career, an NBA Championship, then a team like the Los Angeles Lakers makes sense.

Now, from a roster and rotation standpoint, it would be hard to fit Carmelo in. The team already has a bit of a logjam at forward with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma. However, that could be easily fixed.

Kyle Kuzma has been in trade rumors for the last calendar year. While he did not get dealt at the deadline, I do not think it would be overly shocking to see him dealt this offseason, especially if the Lakers do not win the title this year. They will be looking for improvements.

That opens the door for Carmelo. Now, we must add, he has to be okay with coming off the bench and being the sixth man. He will still get around 25 minutes per game and have a moderately big role, but he likely won’t start. He would essentially replace Kuzma in the rotation.

And as a Kuzma replacement, assuming the team gets a good return for Kuzma, I do not hate it. Carmelo is a more consistent spot-up shooter than Kuzma and it is not like it is a huge defensive difference from Melo to Kuzma. When Melo puts in the effort on the defensive end he is just as good, if not better, of a defender than Kuzma, who is not even a great defender himself.

Then let’s say that the Lakers flip Kuzma and Danny Green in a package similar to the one we proposed for Victor Oladipo. Bring in Oladipo, bring in Melo and the Lakers would have a starting five of Avery Bradley, Victor Oladipo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee with Melo as the sixth man.

The team also could bring back DeMarcus Cousins on a minimum contract and have the mid-level exception to play with. The Lakers would be getting even better and Melo would be the perfect player to replace Kuzma on the roster.

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Without a Kuzma trade, it won’t happen. There are too many people at the position and Melo is not going to take up Jared Dudley‘s role as a veteran benchwarmer.