Sports | August 4, 2021 11:06 am

LeBron James Will Lead a Team of Fading All-Stars on LA Lakers After Carmelo Anthony Signing

Anthony, 37, joins a team that also includes Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
LeBron James moves the ball against Carmelo Anthony in 2020.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

After more than a decade of rumors and near misses, Carmelo Anthony‘s banana boat has finally come in.

Taken third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, 37-year-old Anthony is finally teaming up with the No. 1 overall pick that year, LeBron James, and will join the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year contract that will pay him the veteran’s minimum.

A member of the so-called Banana Boat crew that includes James as well as Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, Anthony revived his career with the Portland Trail Blazers over the past two seasons, but is well past his prime and is far from being the player who averaged 28.7 points per game while playing for the New York Knicks in the 2012-13 season to win the scoring title.

As an aging former All-Star, Anthony should fit right in on a revamped roster that also includes 32-year-old Russell Westbrook, 35-year-old Dwight Howard and 36-year-old Marc Gasol. Joining Westbrook and Howard in LA, Anthony rounds out a flurry of additions by LA that also includes Wayne Ellington (33), Trevor Ariza (36) and Kent Bazemore (32). Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Lakers adding six players age 32 or older in free agency is the most in a single offseason in NBA history.

Old at their core, the Lakers do have some youth in the form of free-agent signings Talen Horton-Tucker,  Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk. Other than 28-year-old Davis, they are the only three players on the roster under the age of 30.

As currently constituted, the Lakers will average 31 years and 302 days old (or 31.83) at the start of the season. Without weighing for playing time, the oldest team in NBA history is the 1997-98 Knicks (31.76), while the oldest team weighted for playing time is the 2000-01 Jazz (32.6), per Elias.

Along with Udonis Haslem, who is somehow still kicking around with the Miami Heat, James and Anthony are the longest-tenured players in the NBA. Entering the 18th season of their careers, Ariza and Howard are one season behind them. Given the way the Lakers and James have built out the roster, LA’s biggest opponent next season might be Father Time.

“On average, players in their 30s tend to decline substantially from year to year. More than anything, the Lakers seem to be relying on the volume game to overcome the aging curve,” per ESPN. “After all, while the average veteran declines, that process is different from player to player and from season to season. If a couple of the newcomers added by the Lakers prove unworthy of rotation playing time, that shouldn’t be an issue so long as the organization is ready to pivot and give their minutes and perhaps roster spots to someone else who will perform better. A poor start from Anthony would test that willingness, given his longtime friendship with James.”

For what it’s worth, Vegas is all-in on LA and has the Lakers installed as the favorites to emerge from the Western Conference. Only the Brooklyn Nets have better odds to win it all.