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Carmelo Anthony to Lakers not likely; Houston still top destination as Nets show interest

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Since reports emerged that the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking to buyout Carmelo Anthony’s contract, a number of teams have emerged as possible destinations for the ten-time All Star.

Though there were indications initially that the Los Angeles Lakers were mulling on acquiring the 6’8 forward, that possibility evaporated on Wednesday when Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka announced the team’s offensive and defensive strategies for the upcoming season.

Pelinka noted that while there were concerns that the Lakers were acquiring players who were noted for their passing prowess instead of exceptional shooting, the team intends to utilize advanced ball movement to open up its players for high-percentage shooting. He added that the organization also prioritized formidable defense in its recruitment of players as a means to harass opponents.

“So just because we didn’t sign sort of the poster-child shooter that is a specialist and can just make shots, we felt we assembled a cast of guys that can really shoot the ball but also defend and be versatile.… Also, if you really study LeBron and Rajon Rondo and the way he plays, these guys are so smart at creating angles and passing. The shooting windows for our other players are gonna be bigger, so that’s gonna increase their percentages. We feel very confident in how we landed here.”

Even though Pelinka did not state the obvious, those two strategies were clear indications that Anthony was not a good fit for their style due to his reputation for poor defense and his knack for being a primary ball-handler on offense that prefers to create his own shots off isolations – the opposite of a high-passing system.

Besides that, the Lakers have one vacant spot left on their roster and their greatest need right now is a center that can further stretch the floor on offense with perimeter shooting, or a Clint Capela-type big man that can take advantage of openings in the post for quick lobs and strong inside defense. If Pelinka’s announcement regarding a need for stifling defense should be taken seriously, Capela is the most important piece they need to complete the puzzle. Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Lance Stephenson are good perimeter defenders; complementing LeBron James’ versatility on defense with Capela’s resourcefulness in that department in the paint would bump the Lakers’ chances of getting to the NBA Finals higher.

The New York Times’ Marc Stein first reported that that the rumors about Anthony to the Lakers were, at best, tenuous, emphasizing that it was being overstated:

“The Los Angeles Lakers have been widely mentioned as a chief rival to the Rockets once Anthony actually becomes a free agent, largely because the Lakers’ new face of the franchise is Melo’s close friend LeBron James. But it’s been suggested to me – strongly – that the Lakers’ interest is overstated.”

Houston remains the most probable destination for Anthony due to the loss of two of their key personnel to free agency in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“The Rockets have lost Mbah A Moute, 31, and Trevor Ariza and plan to ramp up a purshit of Carmelo Anthony once he becomes available afer a trade and buyout or waive and stretch with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources told ESPN.”

While Anthony is clearly not a replacement for the defensive elements that those two departed forwards were, Houston Rockets’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni is optimistic that the 34-year-old can make significant contributions to his team. Anthony spent his first two seasons with the New York Knicks under Coach D’Antoni but disagreements between the two led to D’Antoni’s resignation, which the public blamed in part on Anthony.

Besides the Rockets, a second likely destination for Anthony would be the New Jersey Nets, according to another report by Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News. The deal could possibly send Anthony, along with future draft picks, to Brooklyn in exchange for Jeremy Lin. The Nets would then buy out Anthony. But a possible trade will require approval from the Brooklyn-born Anthony who has a ‘no trade’ clause on his contract.

The 29-year-old Lin, a former teammate of Anthony in New York, however, did not take the possibility of a trade seriously, noting that Nets’ GM Sean Marks or head coach Kenny Atkinson would have informed him of an impending deal if it was going to happen.

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Adekunle Binuyo
Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo

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About Adekunle Binuyo

Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.

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