Carmelo Anthony: Departure From Rockets Was ‘Deeper Than Basketball’

Carmelo Anthony Free Agency

Getty Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony talked with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take” Friday morning to go through his recent failed stints with the Rockets and Thunder. In particular, he talked about how Houston general manager Daryl Morey had unexplained reasoning for trading him to the Bulls last season.

“He came in and was just like ‘Look, your services are no longer needed.’ And I’m like what the hell you talking about,” Anthony said with an incredulous laugh. “He’s like, ‘Things are just not working out, and you gotta figure out something to do.’

“I can’t make a 9-man rotation, that’s what you’re trying to tell me,” he continued. “I’m already starting to accept that I got to come off the bench, which was very hard for me. I accepted that, and I moved on from that. But you’re telling me I can’t make a 9, 10-man rotation on this basketball team…it’s deeper than basketball.”

Smith than followed up by asking about if James Harden had anything to do with Anthony getting cut, claiming that if the Rockets star wanted Anthony on the team, it would happen. Anthony said that he never had a conversation with Harden and didn’t want to jump to conclusions.

After getting to Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals versus the Warriors, Houston scuffled to a 6-7 record in the first 13 games of last season. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the source suggested that Anthony became a “scapegoat” for something that wasn’t entirely his fault.

In 10 games, including a pair of starts, Anthony averaged a career-low 13.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting overall and just 32.8 percent shooting from behind the arc.

“He was amazing here,” a source told Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report, “a real teammate and great with the coaches. It’s unfortunate what happened.”

He is still unsigned in free agency, but may take a 1-day deal to retire with his signature team in the Knicks.

What Happened with the Thunder?

After a successful career with New York, Anthony was traded to Oklahoma City for what was supposed to be an exciting teamup with fellow All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook. However, Anthony ended up with the Atlanta Hawks only after one season.

Anthony told Smith that he had different expectations on his role entering Oklahoma City. In particular, he didn’t think he would be coming off the bench.

“I wasn’t willing to accept (coming off the bench),” he said. “That never was explained to me. If you sat down with me man-to-man and said ‘Look, what’s best for this team is for you to come off the bench,’ I would’ve fought it a little bit, but would’ve stepped away from it and said ‘You know what, this is what’s best for the team.'”

Anthony also mentioned that the Thunder may have been dealing with a salary tax situation and didn’t feel he was worth the financial risk. He had a $27.9 million contract at the time, which the franchise dumped on the Hawks.

An annual 20 points per game plus scorer over his career, he saw his numbers dip to 16.2 points per game with the Thunder. He shot just over 40 percent, as well as 35.4 percent from three.

The 35-year-old concluded the segment with Smith by saying that he knows he “can still play.”