Lakers Rumors: Buzz on Carmelo Anthony and Team's Pursuit of Anthony Davis

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets wait for and inbound at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers underwent drastic changes in the offseason, and general manager Rob Pelinka appears to be finished tweaking the roster for the time being.

Following a 4-6 start, the Lakers signed Tyson Chandler to back up JaVale McGee. Not coincidentally, Los Angeles won its four games before falling 130-117 to the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

The addition of Chandler addressed a clear problem for the Lakers. They lacked a rim protector to bring on when McGee went to the bench.

Strengthening the squad further will be difficult for Los Angeles. The team doesn't have any roster spots open, and it will want to maintain salary flexibility for next summer. Because of those two factors, fans shouldn't expect drastic changes until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

Two recent stories surrounding the pair of Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis reinforce the Lakers' priorities.


LeBron James Brushes Aside Carmelo Anthony Speculation

ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Houston Rockets intend to release or trade Anthony.

Almost immediately, some fans wondered whether the Lakers would be in play for the 10-time All-Star since he and LeBron James have built a strong relationship off the court.

During the Nov. 12 edition of ESPN's The Jump, The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears reported the Lakers were out on Anthony, adding he "[thinks] the Lakers are done."

James also threw cold water on the idea following the Lakers' loss to the Magic. While James didn't explicitly rule out signing Anthony, he acknowledged the unlikelihood of it happening.

"I have no idea," he said of the possibility, per NBC Los Angeles' Michael Duarte. "That's not a question to ask me. Right now we don't even have a roster spot open, but that's not a question for myself."

Los Angeles doesn't have a compelling reason to consider bringing Anthony aboard.

He has already failed to click with two teams with title aspirations: the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. An offense-first veteran who's shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from three-point range doesn't have much value.

The Lakers would also be taking playing time away from one or more of their young stars were they to insert Anthony into their rotation.

Even in the event the front office doesn't see Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma as part of the franchise's long-term plans, playing them now helps make them look more attractive as a trade asset.

Perhaps a team will give Anthony another chance to revive his NBA career. The Lakers are smartly taking themselves out of the running.


Anthony Davis 'Stands atop the Lakers' List'

In looking at the Lakers' search for a second star to pair alongside James, Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus wrote the team viewed Jimmy Butler as an option during the offseason but ranked him below Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard.

Now, Butler is a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, with Wojnarowski reporting both Butler and the Sixers expect to reach an agreement on a long-term deal in the summer.

That doesn't change the Lakers' approach too much, with Pincus describing Davis as the No. 1 target for Los Angeles. He went on to say acquiring Davis will be easier said than done:

"Naturally, that should sound great to Johnson and Pelinka. It's less appealing to New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, who'll undoubtedly offer Davis a supermax extension in the neighborhood of $240 million. If Davis refuses, Demps will have a long list of offers that might trump what Los Angeles is willing or able to send in trade."

The problem with chasing Davis is twofold.

For one, he can't become a free agent until after the 2019-20 season at the earliest. James will turn 36 during the 2020-21 season, so the idea of partnering up with the four-time MVP may have lost some luster by then. Failing to land a second All-Star in the summer of 2019 could also hurt the Lakers' chances of signing Davis as a free agent.

Secondly, trading for Davis will be tricky. 

The Pelicans may be hesitant to send Davis to another Western Conference team, and if New Orleans wanted to hold out for the best possible deal, it would wait until the Boston Celtics came calling. Either one of Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would be a better trade centerpiece than Ball, Ingram or Kuzma, and the Celtics would be able to throw in one or two first-round picks as well this summer.

As great as it would be to see Davis and James on the same team, the Lakers need a lot to break in their favor in order to get the Pelicans star.