Carmelo Anthony, who has not played since being exiled from the Houston Rockets after a 1-for-11 shooting performance on Nov. 8, “has multiple options available,” per The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
Those options are reportedly in the NBA and not, as one might assume, in China. According to Amick, the 10-time All-Star will make his choice before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, and the Los Angeles Lakers “continue to be tied to Anthony more than any other team,” all of which comes with some obstacles.
Obstacle No. 1: Anthony remains on Houston’s roster. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has undoubtedly exhausted every option of trading Anthony for anything, even if it’s just the remaining salary left on his $2.4 million veteran minimum contract. There is little value in waiving him, especially if you know he has multiple options on the buyout market. You might as well hold onto him until Feb. 7, when a desperate team might throw in cash considerations for him, and in that case Anthony would have no control over his next destination. He then must negotiate a buyout with his next team.
Obstacle No. 2: Anthony would have to clear waivers. If, say, the Lakers are interested, there is no rule preventing any of the other teams competing for a playoff spot against L.A. from claiming Anthony. This would likely send the players union’s leadership into a tizzy, but it is a potential sticking point. Of course, there’s always the chance fellow playoff contenders might prefer the Lakers sign Anthony.
Obstacle No. 3: As Amick points out, the Lakers would have to create a roster spot for Anthony. LeBron James has lobbied for the Lakers to sign Anthony and dined with his friend in recent weeks, leading to widespread speculation that they will eventually be teammates, but who’s to say Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson values Anthony over, say, Isaac Bonga or Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk? The Lakers would have to part ways with a member of their 15-man roster, and Anthony has shown little over the past season-plus to prove he’s worth giving up on a 2018 second-round pick so early.
Obstacle No. 4: Anthony had the worst season of his career for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year and was so bad this season that the Rockets took their mulligan 10 games into the season. He turns 35 years old in May and has not played an NBA game in more than two months. Any interested team would be wise to make sure Anthony isn’t playing his way into shape over the final few months of the season. According to Amick, “a source close to James said Anthony’s conditioning and the overall state of his game are considered key factors here in terms of convincing the Lakers to add” Anthony.
Obstacle No. 5: You can bet every other team considering Anthony right now is looking for a better upgrade than a player whose iso-heavy offense and iso-light defense has derailed two championship contenders in two years. There is no guarantee his options don’t dry up between now and Feb. 7.
In that case, Anthony does have an open invitation from Ice Cube to play in the BIG3.
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