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Report: Lakers pausing talks with Carmelo Anthony

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets wait for and inbound at Staples Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LeBron James has quietly and not-so-quietly said he wants the Lakers to sign Carmelo Anthony.

The Lakers have seemed less interested.

They reportedly would sign him only if they had an open roster spot and didn’t have to waive anyone. Well, they opened a roster spot just before the trade deadline by dealing Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley. A tepid buyout market left few other candidates for that vacancy. If the Lakers didn’t want Anthony, they were were running out of excuses for not signing him.

But they stumbled into a rationalization. And I mean stumbled.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Los Angeles Lakers and free agent Carmelo Anthony are pausing talks on a possible contract agreement unless the franchise makes a turn back toward pursuit of Western Conference playoffs contention, league sources told ESPN.

The Lakers had been leaning toward signing Anthony for the rest of the season -- until losses in four of the past five games left the organization and Anthony’s camp wondering if it made sense to bring Anthony, 34, into an unsettled environment with suddenly so little chance of making the playoffs, league sources said.

If a washed-up Carmelo Anthony – regardless of the Lakers being on the same page or not – decided he didn’t want to sign in Los Angeles, this replaces LeBron throwing an inbound pass off the back of the backboard in a loss to the Suns as the Lakers’ low point this season.

I do wonder how much of this is spin, the Lakers coming up with a justification for not signing a player they never wanted to sign or Anthony finding a story to explain why he remains unsigned – or both.

The Lakers missing the playoffs would be embarrassing. At 4.5 games and two teams out, they’re a huge longshot to reach the postseason. But they have to try. Having LeBron in his prime demands it.

I never thought Anthony would help this team. But if they thought a week ago Anthony was the right player to help them win, I’m not sure why that assessment changes now.

Perhaps, the Lakers never actually believed Anthony was that player. The Rockets showed great care to protect Anthony’s ego, and maybe the Lakers are just being similarly considerate.

We’ll get a better idea of what actually happened here if and when Anthony signs elsewhere.