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Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder will soon be parting ways, making Carmelo Anthony a soon to be free agent. Even though Melo isn’t a free agent just yet, several teams are interested in his services and are preparing for the moment he is no longer a member of the Thunder. The two teams who have expressed the most interest are the Rockets and Lakers. There has been interest from other teams like the Miami Heat, and news came out today that the 76ers are interested also, but I feel like most of the interest has been coming from Houston and Los Angeles. If it really does come down to these two teams, which team would be a better fit for Carmelo Anthony?
Los Angeles Lakers
Reports are that Carmelo Anthony wants to play with LeBron James. It makes sense he wants to play with LeBron. Melo and LeBron are good friends, and you know, LeBron is the best player in the NBA. From a relationship standpoint, bringing in Carmelo Anthony makes sense because he already has a good relationship with LeBron. The question about bringing in Melo is from a fit standpoint. Carmelo Anthony didn’t like his role in OKC very much because he didn’t get the playing time he thought he deserved. He’s made it known that he’s not taking a bench role. That right there makes me feel like Melo isn’t a good fit here. LeBron needs players who want to win championships. I’m sure Melo wants to win a championship, but his attitude about doing what’s best for the team doesn’t really show that.
Where I think Melo would be a good fit for the Lakers is in the scoring department. LeBron James needs to be surrounded by players who can score. Right now he’s surrounded by players like Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, etc, who can’t really create their own shots. Ball and Rondo are best at creating shots for others, and McGee can score, but he usually has to be set up. The Lakers have Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, who can both create their own shots, but they’re both very young players who still need some work.
Carmelo Anthony would bring an experienced scoring threat to the Lakers. Last season with OKC was the first time Melo averaged less than 20 points in his career, but he still averaged 16.2 points. He isn’t what he once was, but he can still score. Where the Lakers would have to be careful is with letting Melo handle the ball too much. That role belongs to LeBron James first. When it’s not LeBron, it should be Rondo or Ball. Melo needs to be the kind of player who can score without the ball always in his hands. If he can do that, he can fit in with this team. Adding Melo would also give the Lakers strong starting and bench units. LeBron and Melo starting with Ingram and Kuzma coming off the bench is a pretty good set of forwards.
Houston makes sense for Carmelo Anthony in a similar way to the Lakers. Chris Paul is one of Carmelo Anthony’s good friends and he just resigned with the Rockets. Chris Paul has made it known he wants the Rockets to sign Carmelo Anthony. Similar to how Melo would fit in with the Lakers, I think Melo would be a good fit from a relationship standpoint because of his friendship with Chris Paul. Paul is one of the leaders on that team, so he’ll vouch for Melo and help him have a good relationship with the other players.
Because Carmelo isn’t looking for a bench role, it makes Houston a good fit. Trevor Ariza has departed, and now the Rockets need to fill his spot in the lineup. Ariza has a different game than Melo. Ariza is a much better defender, but Melo can fill the void of a three point shooting threat. Melo might actually be looked at as a better defender in this defense because of how they switch instead of fighting through screens. Melo is a much better defender when he doesn’t have to stick with his original man.
Much like Melo could help the Lakers in scoring, he could do that for the Rockets. The problem is that Melo would have to take on a similar role to what he had in OKC. With Chris Paul and James Harden being the primary scorers and distributors, Melo wouldn’t have the ball as much as he would probably like. Trevor Ariza didn’t have the ball all that much. I do feel that Melo’s style of play fits this offense better though. Houston plays a lot of iso ball, and iso ball is what Melo loves. He’s done it his entire career. The question is whether or not the Rockets can still be as effective with three guys who demand the ball instead of only two.
Lakers or Rockets?
I personally think Melo would be a better fit with the Rockets. His style of play fits right into what the Rockets do. I don’t think the Lakers need a guy who plays like Carmelo Anthony. The Lakers have a lot of young talent and I think they’d be better off developing that talent around LeBron instead of having a guy like Melo trying to take away their playing time. Houston doesn’t have the young developing talent and they play Melo’s style.