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It’s Thanksgiving week in America, and the Los Angeles Lakers have plenty for which to be thankful. Their gamble on the Anthony Davis and LeBron James partnership appears to be working masterfully, the supporting cast is playing complementary basketball and L.A. sits at 14-2 as a result.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Lakers wouldn’t like to improve their roster. It’s a long season, and having additional talent on the bench would help ensure that Davis and James both make it to the proverbial finish line.
This is why Los Angles continues to be linked to former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. Even at 35, Iguodala could be a valuable depth player who helps the Lakers continue to thrive with their second unit. The problem is that he is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Iguodala was traded to Memphis from the Golden State Warriors in the offseason. At the time, the prevailing thought was that Memphis would buy out his contract, as Iguodala was clear about not wanting to play for the organization.
Los Angeles was a logical landing spot.
“Best combination of ring chance and role,” one unnamed league executive told The Athletic’s David Aldridge in early November.
If the Lakers are interested in adding Iguodala, though, they’re apparently going to have to pony up some trade capital. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Memphis has made it clear that buying out Iguodala’s contract isn’t in the team’s plans.
“The message that Memphis has been delivering to the entire league, to teams who would love to get him, especially for the postseason: The Clippers, the Lakers, the Houston Rockets, you’re going to have to trade for him. We are not buying him out,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Countdown.
If the Grizzlies hold true to their plan with Iguodala, this could make it nearly impossible for Los Angeles to acquire him. While they could conceivably make a move before the trade deadline, the Lakers are not rich in tradable assets. The offseason trade to sign Davis cost the Lakers several young players and three first-round draft picks.
If there is another team seriously interested in adding Iguodala, the chances of the Lakers being outbid are pretty strong.
LeBron Was Interested in Adding Anthony
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Had the Lakers made a move earlier in the season, they could have strengthened their bench by going a different route—adding 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
While Anthony is no longer capable of taking over games as he once did, he can still provide valuable scoring off the bench. Since signing with the Portland Trail Blazers roughly a week ago, he’s played three games and averaged 13 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 29 minutes.
Anthony would likely have a smaller role in Los Angeles, but like Iguodala, he could add some punch to the second unit.
James was interested in such a scenario, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
“Many thought the Lakers would be the team to sign Anthony in the offseason because of their need for depth and floor spacing. That speculation also arose because of Anthony’s close friendship with superstar LeBron James. Anthony had the blessing of James, league sources told Yahoo Sports, but the front office chose to go in a different direction.”
It’s unclear exactly why the front office didn’t want Anthony, but his lack of defensive prowess could be a reason. Defense has been an emphasis for head coach Frank Vogel, and Anthony simply may not have fit his vision.
According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, Anthony’s poor defense led to his dismissal from the Houston Rockets last season.
“Although the Rockets knew of Anthony’s defensive weaknesses before he joined, team sources say they didn’t anticipate just how limited he would be,” Holmes wrote back in October.
Bench points are valuable, but they’re far less valuable if the team suffers on the other end of the court to obtain them.