LeBron James was recently dragged into Carmelo Anthony’s quest to find a new team when former NBA player Royce White argued that James should have pushed for the Los Angeles Lakers to sign him. While it is currently unknown if James ever tried to do that with the Lakers, a former teammate of his claims that James has indeed tried to get Anthony onto one of his teams in the past. Kendrick Perkins, who played with James for parts of two seasons, posted on Twitter that while James pushed for the Cleveland Cavaliers to acquire Anthony, he was told no by team management.
How do you know Bron haven’t went to the Lakers and told them to sign Melo? I’ve witnessed GMs Tell Bron no several times! Bron tried to get Melo in Cleveland and the Cavs told him no!
— Kendrick Perkins August 21, 2019
Perkins doesn’t specify when exactly such a request could have been made, but there are three basic periods in which it might have been possible. Each comes with separate complications that might have prevented such an acquisition.
James and Anthony were both free agents in 2014. Broadly, it would have been possible for the two to conspire to join the Cavaliers together, and if James had insisted upon Anthony joining the team with him as a condition of his own return, Cleveland would have happily obliged given Anthony’s stature at the time. The Cavaliers could have worked out a sign-and-trade agreement with the New York Knicks with the same assets they would later trade for Kevin Love. However, Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin wrote in their book “Return of the King” that James “didn’t think [Anthony] would leave New York, much less come to Cleveland,” indicating that he didn’t bother to ask the Cavaliers to acquire Anthony at that point.
Anthony became legally tradable on Dec. 15, 2014, and a trade for Kevin Love was widely speculated. That window would have remained open, at least in theory, through Cleveland’s championship in July of 2016, at which point trading Love would have become infeasible. February of 2015 seems like the likeliest point. Perkins joined the team late in the month, and on Feb. 7, James issued his infamous “fit-out” tweet that many have assumed was targeted at Love.
The deadline was still 12 days away when he sent that tweet, and the Knicks were well on their way to a conference-worst 17-65 record, so they may have been amenable to such a trade. But one never came. Perhaps that is because Cleveland wasn’t interested, but it’s worth noting that Love was set to become a free agent in 2015, and the Knicks may not have been interested in a potential rental during a lost season.
Anthony was shopped throughout the summer of 2017 and was ultimately traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sept. 25. The biggest obstacle at this point would have been building a trade. The Knicks were not interested in a deal that would have forced them to take on long-term salary, and rejected offers involving Ryan Anderson on that basis. The Cavaliers mostly had players with such contracts to offer, such as Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. There were rumors that Anthony could have been part of a Kyrie Irving trade that offseason, and Irving did list the Knicks as a preferred landing spot according to Chris Haynes.
This is another potential point at which James could have asked for Anthony. He reportedly did not want to lose Irving, but acquiring Anthony may have softened that blow for him.
Regardless of when such a request might have been made, the notion that Cleveland could have rejected it is far less surprising than it might seem. James is among the most powerful players in basketball, but that doesn’t make him a GM. Marc Stein reported for the New York Times in April that the Lakers were worried about giving off the appearance that he was, and limited his input on moves accordingly. Even if he wants Anthony on the Lakers, he cannot force the team to sign him. If Anthony is going to find a team, it will have to be on his own merits.
Courtesy: CBS Sports