EL SEGUNDO, California – Nineteen seasons into his NBA career and with a wealth of accomplishments to show for his career, Carmelo Anthony’s résumé would suggest an automatic breakout role for the Los Angeles Lakers this year.
Yet 37-year-old Anthony is open to whatever his new team asks of him as he continues to pursue the championship that eluded him throughout his time in the League.
“At this point, man, whatever we have to do, let’s do it,” Anthony said after the Lakers’ third day of training field on Friday. “It’s not … ‘I can’t sit down’ and, ‘Oh, I want to start,’ ‘I want to get off the bench.’ Whatever it is, it is. “
Anthony played 69 games for the Portland Trail Blazers last season and started only three of them. It was the first time in his career, save for the ill-fated 10-game season he had with the Houston Rockets in 2018-19, when he was used primarily as a backup.
“I’ve had experience as a starter for 18, 17 years and I had the experience of coming off the bench for a year,” Anthony said. “It’s not something I think about.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he is still thinking about the roster combinations he will have at his disposal this season, but has already let Anthony know that he will be a necessary piece to Los Angeles’ success.
“When we spoke before he signed here, I told him that I envisioned an important role in this team,” Vogel said. “I don’t know how that will be, if he is going to start, if he is going to come off the bench, but that will be a factor for us.”
The coach will have to wait to see how Anthony fits in in a game situation. Anthony, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will be out of Sunday’s preseason opener against the Brooklyn Nets to rest, Vogel said. Trevor Ariza, who has missed most of training camp with a sore right ankle, will also be offside. Anthony Davis will play, but probably only in the first quarter, the coach said.
But when Anthony plays, there will be minutes for him. Vogel recalled pointing out to Anthony this summer how to trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a 41% 3-point shooter, and Kyle Kuzma, who shot 36.1% from deep and exhausted the Los Angeles group of shooters that was already. shallow to begin with. While Anthony played a career-low 24.5 minutes per game last season, he shot 40.9% from 3, his second-best mark since entering the league.
“We probably won’t talk about it again until we get closer to the regular season,” Vogel said. “But I think he is going to play an important role in our team.”
Vogel’s communication plan is fine for Anthony. He credited the “clarity” with which his new coach has opened the camp by implementing offensive and defensive schemes with a roster full of 11 new faces since last season.
“Whatever you want, let’s do it,” Anthony said. “I’m not even tripping over that right now. Because we’re going. We’re going to win.”
As Anthony spoke to reporters, his face showed that his message was not just lip service. His left eyelid was scratched and swollen from a meeting with Davis on the practice court, but he laughed at the injury with the same good nature that he is processing his role in the lineup.
“You have to ask Anthony Davis, man. Ask AD. He tried to get me out early,” Anthony said, clearly joking. “Little war wound, that’s all.”
That attitude reflects his appreciation for the game at this stage in his career, a career where he’s not yet trying to set an expiration date.
“I can still do what I do, man, at a high rate,” he said. “But number one, I’m still passionate about it. I haven’t lost my passion. My love for the game, I think now, is at an all-time high.”
Lakers president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has repeatedly cited 44-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady as a prime example of how professional athletes are redefining how long it can last a better time. Anthony was asked about Brady’s claim that he could still compete in the NFL when he’s 50 and putting a cap on how long his passion will last.
“Brady has an offensive line,” he joked. “They’re going to protect Brady. I don’t want to do that. I’m not going to play 50, I’ll tell you.”