Half of the “Banana Boat Crew” is now with the Los Angeles Lakers as Carmelo Anthony has reportedly agreed to sign a one-year deal to join his dear friend LeBron James and suit up for the purple and gold. The move is indicative of where Melo’s head is at coming into year 18. It is clear now that his focus is competing for a championship, something he has yet to do in his career, leaving him as the only member of the “Banana Boat Crew” yet to make the NBA Finals.
Portland traded for Norman Powell before last year’s deadline, which sent Melo to the bench. With Powell joining the Blazers, Melo saw his minutes drop significantly and has come to realize that there is no point coming off the bench for a team that is not competing for a championship. By joining the Lakers, his chances to make it to the big dance are as high as they can be.
Carmelo shot 40.9% from three last season, making him the Lakers’ best shooter right now. Anthony fits perfectly on this team as he cannot only spot-up and shoot the three but can also be a lethal scorer creating off-the-catch against rotating defenders. Anthony is also strong enough to guard the paint at power forward and has the perimeter skills to exploit mismatches at the four. Someone like Melo who can do this at an elite level is perfect for a team with Russell Westbrook and LeBron James running the offense.
However, Melo is 37 and is joining an aging roster. The Lakers signed Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, and Dwight Howard on day one of free agency – all players 32 years old and up. By signing Anthony, the Lakers now have 5 of the eight most experienced (measured by regular-season minutes) active players in the NBA, a list which LeBron James tops with over fifty-thousand regular-season minutes logged throughout his career.
We all know LeBron likes playing with veterans, but Father Time is undefeated. While the team’s collective experience has its benefits, it could also bring some concerns on the defensive end. Health is another issue that the Lakers are tempting with this strategy; even with young guards like Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn, their age is still a concern.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent move for both parties. It is a low-risk, high-reward type of acquisition. Should it fail, the Lakers can always go to LeBron at the four along with the young shooters, but if it works, then you might have Team USA Melo dressed in purple and gold. For Melo, he gets the chance to compete for a championship, which he last did in his only year in the NCAA with Syracuse. The last time he was playing for a title, he won, and he and the Lakers hope that the result will be the same this time around.