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Report: LeBron James blessed Lakers signing Carmelo Anthony last summer, but front office didn’t

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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The Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony.

Why didn’t the Lakers?

There was plenty of chatter about Anthony joining his friend LeBron James in Los Angeles last season. As free agency approached last summer, rumors intensified about the Lakers signing Anthony.

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.

Anthony, via Shams Charania of The Athletic:

“As far as friendships, I would never put business along with friendships,” Anthony said. “I would never do that. I would never reach out to a friend and say, ‘I need this. Can you do this for me?’ when it pertains to a situation that may not be in their control. It was frustrating being in my position, but I just decided: control what you can control.

“I got close friends on a lot of teams that I would never reach out to for a favor. It’s just not who I am.”

I respect Anthony not wanting to put that pressure on LeBron. That shows how much he valued their friendship. Because Anthony cared deeply about returning.

But even without Anthony saying anything, everyone knew the situation. Anthony wanted a job. LeBron was involved in the Lakers’ decision-making. There was an unspoken expectation LeBron would make it happen.

The incentives for LeBron’s camp to leak that information to Haynes are clear: It shows LeBron’s loyalty to his friend. It shows LeBron doesn’t run the front office – a reputation he has always disliked. LeBron wants some say in management. He doesn’t want to be held responsible for those decisions.

That all applies, even if LeBron didn’t want to use a roster spot on someone who looked washed up. Handling the employability of an under-qualified friend can be awkward.

At least everything worked out. The Lakers have a deep roster of role players, and Anthony is playing surprisingly well so far in Portland.