Carmelo Anthony is not worrying if he starts or not for the Lakers

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony walks on the court during the NBA basketball team's Media Day Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony walks onto the court during media day at the team's El Segundo training facility Tuesday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

For 17 seasons of his distinguished 18-year NBA career, Carmelo Anthony has been a starter.

He has heard his name called as a starter at the beginning in 1,117 out of the 1,191 games he has played.

Anthony is in his first season with the Lakers after signing as a free agent and his role on the team has yet “to be determined.”

Whether he starts or comes off the bench for the deep and talented Lakers is not an issue for Anthony.

Anthony and Lakers coach Frank Vogel haven’t had a talk about the topic after three days of training at the team's El Segundo facility.

“I’m not even thinking about it,” said Anthony, who had cuts and bruises around his left eye from some physical play against Anthony Davis. “Whatever he wants, let’s do it. I’m not even trippin’ about that … at this point. Because let’s go. Let’s go win.”

Last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Anthony had his first taste of being a reserve. He started in only three of the 69 games in which he played.

Anthony’s scoring dipped to 13.4 points per game — he has averaged 23.0 points over his career — but he was still a factor with his shooting. The 6-foot-7 forward shot 42.1% from the field, 40.9% from three-point range.

“I had to adjust to that last year. I adjusted to it. It was cool after I got my feet wet and I understood what my role was going to be on that team,” Anthony said. “It’s the same here. With this team, I kind of look at it like the USA [Olympic] team, in a sense. There’s so much talent, you’ve got to figure out what works together, what doesn’t work together, how it works together, how it all comes together.

"At this point, man, whatever we need to do, let’s do it. It ain’t … I can’t sit and, ‘Oh, I want to start. I want to come off the bench.’ Whatever it is, it is. I’ve had experience being a starter for 18, 17 years and had an experience of coming off the bench for one year. It’s not something I think about.”

Vogel said he and Anthony, 37, would talk about his role “when the time is right.”

They had a conversation during the summer about Anthony having a significant role for the Lakers.

“This is all still to be determined, you know what I mean?” Vogel said. “When we spoke before he signed here, I told him that I envisioned a big role on this team. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, whether he’s going to start, whether he’s going to come off the bench, but that he’s going to be a factor for us.”

Vogel said Anthony’s ability to knock down long-distance shots will be needed in the wake of shooters Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma being traded to the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook.

“That we lost shooting in the trade for KCP and Kuz going out and that we feel like this is the time that he’s going to have a significant role with our group, and that’s the last time we’ve talked about it,” Vogel said about his discussion with Anthony after he signed one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $2.6 million. “We’ll probably not talk about it again until we get closer to the regular season. But I do think he’s going to have a big role on our team.”

After two practices, Rajon Rondo remarked how he hasn’t seen Anthony “miss since he's been a Laker.”

Vogel was asked about that Friday.

“He missed a couple today, but he did have some moments in that scrimmage where he got hot,” Vogel said. “I was coaching against him and I had to figure out what we had to do to try and slow him down. But he did miss a couple today, yes.”

Etc.

Vogel said LeBron James, Westbrook, Anthony and Trevor Ariza, who missed his second practice Friday because of a sore right ankle, won’t play in the Lakers’ first exhibition game Sunday against Brooklyn at Staples Center. Vogel said Davis would play “just the first quarter.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.