Magic Johnson Needs to Fight LeBron on Melo Signing

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Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets shakes hands with his good friend LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers after the Lakers' home opener against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 20, 2018. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets 124-115. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

LeBron James would like banana boat buddy Carmelo Anthony to join forces with him in LA, sources have told The Athletic.

The Los Angeles Lakers have won 11 of their last 14 games en route to a 15-9 record. It has been a surprising time in the Western Conference which has been predictably competitive but with unlikely teams atop the Western Conference standings.

Many predicted that the Lakers would struggle or even miss the playoffs entirely. What has happened during the first quarter of the season instead has been the rapid growth of a young team led by an ageless legend in year one of a four-year project.

Magic Johnson has made all of the right moves both big and small surrounding James with budding perimeter talent and battle-tested veterans that provide stability in bigger moments. Tyson Chandler is helping LeBron preserve some of his energy on the interior. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are playing more aggressively and just scratching the surface of their ability to impact games. Kyle Kuzma is knocking down his outside shots. With the room to sign another max player next year, things could not be better for the Lakers now and in the immediate future.

This is why it is critical for Magic Johnson to fight James and his camp on signing Carmelo Anthony.

The 34-year-old Anthony remains on the Rockets’ roster and can’t be traded until at least December 15th. James and his camp still believe that he can play. They are probably right to a degree. Carmelo is one of the best scorers in NBA history, and I am sure that it is still within his ability to put the ball in the basket. However, it is his lack of offensive efficiency and defensive ability that would make his addition to the Los Angeles roster damning for their plans over the next four years.

Anthony struggled with his previous superstar team-ups in both Oklahoma City and Houston, most recently being taken out of the Rockets’ rotation after averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting. Whatever there was two seasons ago when Melo was averaging 22 points a game in New York City appears to have disappeared.

No one would have predicted the Lakers would have the 10th best net rating in the league. This has happened behind impressive play from younger players that are finding their roles playing alongside one of the game’s greatest. Of the Lakers top 5 lineups in offensive rating, 4 of them include James one other veteran and a bunch of kids. Adding Anthony would stunt the growth of at least one of the young studs who Lakers management has held in such high regard up to this point. Stunting their growth due to LeBron’s sentimentality would be a crime.

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Mandatory Credit – J Alexander Diaz/Los Angeles Lakers

If LeBron really does want to play with Melo, now would be as good a time as ever. Brandon Ingram’s ankle injury leaves a gap at forward that will leave Michael Beasley to earn significant time going forward. If the Lakers front office thinks Anthony would be a better option they could make a move to get him for pennies on the dollar. It is just hard to see where the future Hall of Famer would fit in and contribute to an already bubbling Lakers roster.

LeBron has been known throughout his career for leaving rosters saddled with overpaid veterans whose best days are behind them. He has leveraged front offices into paying people he is close with, providing mixed results at best. If Magic Johnson wants to continue to revamp this Lakers franchise and build a perennial contender, he would be wise to let LeBron and co. down lightly and continue on with their plans.

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