Eighteen years after they were drafted together, buddies Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James will finally be teammates.
Anthony, 37, agreed to sign with the Lakers on a one-year deal, according to his manager, giving the forward his best opportunity for a title.
The forward was reportedly considering a reunion with the Knicks, but the Lakers always made more sense at this stage of his career. After being cut by the Rockets in 2018 and a short hiatus from the NBA, Anthony was productive the last two seasons with the Blazers.
The Lakers, the 2020 champions, are considered top title contenders and carry six future Hall of Famers, with Melo joining LeBron, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Marc Gasol.
Anthony will most likely come off the bench for a scoring punch. After years of resisting a reserve role, he embraced it last season in Portland while averaging 13.4 points in 24.5 minutes and shooting a career-best 41% from beyond the arc.
The Blazers bombed in the first round of the playoffs, however, and are dealing with something of an identity crisis while trying to appease star Dame Lillard.
Anthony’s 6 1/2-year stint in New York is arguably the greatest of any Knick since Patrick Ewing, but his ugly breakup in 2017 followed a nasty feud with team president Phil Jackson.
Anthony has since flirted with the idea of returning to the Knicks, especially since his former agent, Leon Rose, took over the team’s basketball operations. Anthony’s family still lives in New York and his son, Kiyan, will play next season for Christ the King HS in Queens.
But the Lakers are closer to giving Anthony his first ring and he’s talked about playing with James for years.
“One thousand percent,” Anthony said in 2019 of playing with LeBron James. “We’ve talked about it since we were 18, 19 years old.”
The two became friends in high school as elite prospects on different teams, and went head-to-head in the NBA. They were also the two youngest members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic squad — which finished third — and later captured two gold medals together.
The Lakers were forced into the play-in tournament last season after injuries to James and Davis. They fell in the first round to the Suns.