LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony entered the NBA two picks apart in the 2003 Draft, and in the nearly two decades since that night they’ve become good friends and won two Olympic gold medals together. Now, finally, they’ll be teammates in the NBA.
Earlier this month, Anthony signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. It was part of a big summer for the team, as they traded for Russell Westbrook and added a number of veteran free agents. Although there’s no denying their top-end talent, there have been some questions about the age of the Lakers’ roster. During his introductory press conference on Monday, Anthony brushed off those concerns. Via ESPN:
“We don’t care,” Anthony said. “We don’t care. We make our own narrative.
“I like when people talk about the age. It gives a better story. I think it gives a better story. I think people forget, at the end of the day, it’s about basketball. You got to know how to play basketball. You got to have that experience. I think that’s what we bring at this point and time. Our talent, our skill, but also our experience.”
The 37-year-old Anthony will be the oldest player on the team, followed closely behind by LeBron, Trevor Ariza, Jared Dudley and Marc Gasol, all of whom are 36, and Dwight Howard, who is 35. Westbrook, meanwhile, is now 32 and the average age of the Lakers’ roster is 31.8 years. That is far and away the oldest roster in the league, beating out the Utah Jazz (second-oldest at 28.9 years) by more than two years.
LeBron has spent significant time on the sideline in two of the past three seasons, and played a career-low 45 games in 2021. Gasol, one of their few true bigs, was limited to 52 games last season, and it’s not clear how much he has left in the tank. Westbrook spent much of last season playing through a torn quad and hasn’t reached the 70-game mark since he was back in Oklahoma City. And even Anthony Davis, the youngest member of the big three and still in his prime at 28, hasn’t been able to stay healthy on a consistent basis. He played only 36 games last season and missed the end of their playoff run.
Considering the age and injury history of some of the most important players, it’s certainly fair to have some questions about this roster. Will they be able to stay healthy for an entire 82-game season and then four playoff rounds? It’s certainly possible, and you can understand Anthony and the players’ perspective. Obviously they aren’t going to worry about it. But for fans and analysts thinking about what might happen next season, it’s something that has to be taken into account.