A few years ago, Carmelo Anthony was out of the NBA and struggling so much to find a roster spot that there was a chance his career was done. Now, Anthony is in training camp with his good friend LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers after being one of the team’s key offseason signings.
As he prepares for his 19th season, Anthony is still searching for his first championship. That’s part of why he signed with the Lakers, and why he’s willing to play whatever role the team needs from him. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Anthony said he’s not worried about whether he’ll start or not.
“At this point, man, whatever we need to do, let’s do it,” Anthony said. “It ain’t … ‘I can’t sit,’ and, ‘Oh, I want to start,’ ‘I want to come off the bench.’ Whatever it is, it is… I’ve had experience being a starter for 18, 17 years and had an experience of coming off the bench for one year. It’s not something I think about.”
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When Anthony was trying to get back in the league a few years back, one of the major questions was if he could adapt to a lesser role than he was used to after being a star for so long. He proved he could with the Trail Blazers, especially last season when he started just three times and played a career-low 24.5 minutes per game.
And that was on a team that struggled to even get into the playoffs and was not a title contender. With the Lakers, who are one of the preseason favorites to win it all, it should be even easier for Anthony. “Whatever [head coach Frank Vogel] wants, let’s do it,” Anthony said. “I’m not even trippin’ about that at this point. Because let’s go. Let’s go win.”
But while Anthony isn’t going to be one of the primary players on this roster, that’s not to say he’ll be there just to wave a towel on the bench. He’s going to play a lot, and his 3-point shooting will be particularly useful. The Lakers finished 21st in the league in 3-point percentage last season (35.4) and traded away two of their better shooters in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma.
Anthony shot a career-high 40.9 percent from 3-point land last season and has turned into one of the better catch-and-shoot guys in the league. His ability to space the floor is going to be key for the Lakers, and he should get plenty of open looks playing alongside LeBron and Russell Westbrook.