NBA Rumors: Lakers, Carmelo Anthony ‘Pause’ Talks

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, earlier this season
Harry How / Getty Images

For the last several months, it’s been assumed by a lot of NBA observers that Carmelo Anthony would be signing with the Los Angeles Lakers at some point during this season. Such a move would give the Lakers another veteran, and finally make NBA teammates of LeBron James and Anthony, the first and third overall picks in the 2003 NBA Draft.

But despite lots of reports of talks, no such deal ever took place, and now it appears that it’s not happening, at least for now.

According to a report on ESPN Monday morning by Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers and Anthony are “pausing” their talks until and unless the Lakers climb back into playoff contention. The report cited league sources.

The Lakers, with a 30-33 record, are in 10th place in the Western Conference; the top eight teams in the conference qualify for the playoffs. The Lakers are four and a half games behind the San Antonio Spurs, who currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot. The Lakers have also lost four out of their last five games, including a loss over the weekend to the lowly Phoenix Suns.

The recent bad turn in the team’s fortunes, according to the Wojnarowski report, has “left the organization and Anthony’s camp wondering if it made sense to bring Anthony, 34, into an unsettled environment with suddenly so little chance of making the playoffs.”

The team currently has less than a one percent chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, and they’re even behind their Staples Center co-tenant, the Los Angeles Clippers, in the standings.

The 34-year-old Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star, had brief and unsuccessful runs with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and the Houston Rockets this year before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls and then accepted a buyout. He has been a free agent since February 1 but has not signed with any team.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have been disappointing in James’ first year on the team. The Lakers’ young players have not developed as hoped, and the team’s second half has been overshadowed by its unsuccessful pursuit of star center Anthony Davis, in which much of the team’s young core was mentioned daily in trade rumors but all remained on the team.

James and Anthony, while never playing on the same NBA team, were in the same draft class and have been teammates in various other competitions, including the Olympics on multiple occasions.