Ranking Carmelo Anthony landing spots: Will free agent return to Lakers or sign contract with new team?

Carmelo Anthony knows that he isn’t going to play in the NBA much longer — he certainly doesn’t share LeBron James’ goal of playing with his son — but the 10-time All-Star still has a little bit left in the tank.

Last season with the Lakers, Anthony proved to be a solid off-the-bench scorer, averaging 13.3 points in 69 games. He also showed that he could score his points efficiently, as he set a new career-high in true shooting percentage (57.9).

However, nearly a month removed from the start of free agency, Anthony remains unsigned. The 38-year-old could end up re-signing with Los Angeles once the offseason dust fully settles, but is that his best option?

Let’s assume Anthony isn’t going to suddenly share a shocking retirement announcement before the start of the 2022-23 season and run through a few landing spots.

MORE: Anthony among best free agents still available

Ranking Carmelo Anthony landing spots

5. Nuggets

The case for: Throw a reunion party! The Nuggets selected Anthony with the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, and he quickly became one of the league’s premier offensive weapons. Anthony coming full circle in his career would be a terrific story.

The case against: Aside from the fact that Anthony had a rather unceremonious exit from Denver, this just isn’t a great basketball fit. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. will be controlling the ball, not to mention the necessary touches for role players like Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon and Bones Hyland. The Nuggets don’t need more offense.

4. Heat

The case for: Miami wasn’t a bad offensive team last season, but the Heat would occasionally get bogged down on that end. (Things got really ugly in the Eastern Conference Finals.) Anthony could help in that area, particularly when Jimmy Butler heads to the bench. Anthony also played with Butler and Kyle Lowry during the 2016 Summer Olympics, so there should be some familiarity.

The case against: Miami already has shooters with defensive issues. Anthony would only add to that problem. Plus, the Heat seem to have their eyes set on a bigger target. (And really, does Anthony want to go through the Heat conditioning program at this point in his career?)

3.Warriors

The case for: Who wouldn’t want to play for the fields? Anthony would get the cleanest looks of his career playing alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Golden State would value a veteran like Anthony, both on the floor and in the locker room.

The case against: This could be a significant season for the Warriors’ youngsters. Golden State has been open about its desire to develop the next generation while still competing for titles. Would Anthony be open to taking on a leadership role and logging limited minutes?

2.Suns

The case for: It was easy to mock the Suns after they got blown out in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, but Phoenix was by far the most dominant team of the regular season. Anthony would have a legitimate shot at winning a title with this team. He would also be able to play with Chris Paul, one of his closest friends in the NBA.

The case against: Similar to the Nuggets, the Suns only have so many keys available. Paul and Devin Booker run the offense. Deandre Ayton will be expected to make a leap after signing a huge contract. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are still growing their games. Phoenix has reason to feel just fine about its status in the West.

1.Lakers

The case for: Unlike the other situations on this list, there would be no confusion about Anthony’s role. He’s already shown what he can do as a part of the Lakers’ rotation. It’s not as though Los Angeles made significant upgrades during the offseason, so there should be minutes available. Oh, and LeBron is still around. That helps.

The case against: If the Lakers walk into next season with their current roster, they simply won’t be good enough to win a championship. There isn’t a ton of talent outside of James and Anthony Davis, and the Russell Westbrook thing… yikes. If Anthony’s top goal is to win a title before he retires, he should pursue other options.

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