Carmelo Anthony‘s future in the NBA has been a consistent topic the last few months.
Will he or won’t he play this coming season?
For those keeping score at home: Carmelo Anthony has not played NBA basketball since November 8 against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Brooklyn Nets have been a consistent name discussed and Melo joining them makes sense, at least from a basketball standpoint.
The Nets have a potent roster with names like Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie complimenting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. They will likely be without Durant this season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Los Angeles Lakers were in talks with Anthony last season. But their losing skid and not making the playoffs changed things. The Lakers do have one final roster spot and many believe that Anthony still has some game left in the tank to compete against many of the NBA’s elite.
A 10-time NBA All-Star, Anthony signed with the Houston Rockets last summer after clearing waivers in a trade that shipped him from the Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks. After signing with the Rockets he was later dealt to the Chicago Bulls before the NBA trade deadline.
Many have said that he’s past his prime and can’t compete anymore.
Appearing on Power 105.1 FM’s The Breakfast Club, ESPN First Take’s Stephen A. Smith told Angela Yee, DJ Envy and Charlamage the God that an NBA assistant coach shared with him that Carmelo’s resume could be intimidating for a bench player.
“One coach said this to me, he said: ‘Stephen A this brotha is a future Hall of Famer, but I don’t think he works for my nine man rotation. How am I supposed to look down at the end of my bench and see a Hall of Famer and not think I’m going to take heat for that? Why would I want that headache? I know from roster 9 to 15, he clearly could be on any roster in the NBA. The problem is, most of those dudes are marginal talents without his resume that you could justify and get away with it and get peace of mind. That’s why he’s not in the league.”
His resume: Anthony has averaged 24.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his 16-year career.
Six times he was chosen as an NBA All-Star and he won the NBA Rookie Challenge MVP. He won a College Basketball National Championship at Syracuse under head coach, Jim Boeheim. Representing team USA in the Olympics, he won a Bronze Medal at the 2002 Junior Team and 2004 Athens Olympics. Additionally, he won two gold medals in 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
The third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, Melo was traded to the New York Knicks at the NBA’s trading deadline in 2011.
He was beloved by many as a Knick. Many of the public want to know: Will Melo latch on with a team this season?
Well, we’ve got the voice of the Knicks on Line 1, literally! Insert MSG Networks’ hoops color commentator, Walt “Clyde” Frazier.
“I hope so man,” Frazier, the NBA Hall of Famer, Knicks legend told me in a one-on-one interview on Monday.
“I don’t like what’s happening to him. He should have a swan song. I’m confident that somebody will give him a chance.”
Frazier joins a litany of people who want to see Melo play in the NBA this season.
Dwyane Wade told me that he wants Melo to play in a place that’s going to allow him ‘to be Melo and understand that he still can play the game of basketball.’
TNT’s Kenny Smith told me in April that he believes Melo is ‘one of the best 300 players in the world that’s not playing’
“You can’t say he’s not one of the best 300 players.”
Etan Thomas, the 12th pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2000 NBA Draft suggested something similar to me late last month. “I think the media right now is trying to blackball him,” he told Scoop B Radio.
“And I”m trying to figure out why.”
While Carmelo Anthony has been away from the game, he’s been spending a ton of time going to his son, Kiyan’s basketball games.
He’s also thought about calling it quits.
In an interview with Taryn Finley of the Huffington Post, Melo suggested that he is at peace with the fact he may not play much longer. “I’m sure [retirement is] coming soon,” he said.
“I’d be sitting lying to you if I said it’s not coming soon. I think I want it to come soon. I don’t think I want to do this forever, but because you love it so much, it’s hard to give it up. At the end of the day, at anything you do, when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. But as long as you feel good with that.”
NBA training camp begins at the end of this month. There are key people without teams. Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith stand out at the moment.
Melo is still Melo with all due respect to the two men named above.
Million Dollar questions: Why are teams passing on Melo?
Is he too cool for school?
“Daryl Morey let go of Carmelo with 10 games into the season because the analytics dudes judge the game in ten game increments,” Stephen A. Smith also told the hosts of The Breakfast Club last week.
“After ten games, they think it tells you something. So if they wanted Charlemagne, if they wanted Angela, they wanted you, they’d say: ‘we want you gone.’ They ain’t cutting you game 15. They’re gonna cut you at 10 or 20 or 30. It’s like 10 game increments. So it wasn’t an accident. So you got that working against Melo.”
Walt Frazier simplified it. “Well you know with your past,” he tells me.
“People will say that he was arrogant at one point in his career and the way of getting revenge or something.”
But Check This Out:
In his rookie season, Melo became the first rookie since David Robinson to lead a playoff team in scoring. Melo’s first coach in the NBA was Jeff Bzdelik. It’s been documented that Bzdelik publicly criticized Anthony’s lack of defensive proficiency.
Anthony wasn’t pleased and mid-way through the next season, Bzdelik was fired.
Ironically, when Melo signed with the Houston Rockets last season,Bzdelik was an assistant coach under head coach, Mike D’Antoni and he promptly stepped down.
D’Antoni who also coached Anthony during the Knicks years said that Bzdelik’s departure had nothing to do with he and Anthony’s past.
“No. No,” D’Antoni told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I’m almost 100 percent sure that’s not right. I’ve talked to him, and we even talked about it during the summer. I mean he likes ‘Melo. He’s like me. You’re fine. It’ll be good, it’d be interesting, it’d be fun. And he and ‘Melo had made up a couple years ago. They were fine, so no.”
Seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry told me last summer: “Carmelo’s forte isn’t defense and him and D’Antoni don’t have the best rapport.”
Amare Stoudemire, a former teammate of Anthony was coached under D’Antoni.
“He’s in position where he can definitely play his game,” Stoudemire told me of Anthony.
“You have a lot of guys there that are great iso players and he fits right in with that type of offense, but D’Antoni does like to move the ball. So we’ll see if he’ll be able to incorporate both styles.”
In George Karl’s autobiography released in 2016, Karl referred to Melo as a “conundrum.”
Karl believed that Anthony had an issue with sharing the spotlight and questioned Melo’s ability to play defense.
Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony also weren’t the best of friends.
Anthony once told the New York Times’ Marc Stein that Jackson, the Knicks’ former team President was willing to trade him for a bag of chips.
Jackson said publicly in 2017 that he believed Anthony would be “better off somewhere else” to pursue a championship, noting that the Knicks haven’t been winning with Anthony for the past three years.
Anthony was eventually shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In one season in OKC, Anthony averaged career-low numbers.
For those keeping score at home: Melo averaged 16.2 points on 40 percent shooting, made 36 percent of his 3-pointers and his true shooting percentage was 50 percent; his worst ever.
Granted, he was not option one or two with Russell Westbrook and Paul George as the top two options. It is arguable that Melo was option 4 behind Steven Adams and from the very beginning in Oklahoma it seemed that Melo was doomed.
Remember his introductory presser when he was asked if he was coming off the bench.
Melo replied: “Who Me?”
Yup. It was a wrap like Reynolds wrap!
“No player is going to say: Nah, I ain’t got it no more, I’m washed up,'” Etan Thomas told me.
“So they blew everything he said out of proportion.”
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said all of the right things about the former All Star, but it was only a matter of time.
“Carmelo I think has done a great job coming in,” he told the Norman Transcript’s Fred Katz a couple of seasons ago.
“First thing was I think obviously changing positions for him, going from a small forward to a power forward, I think coming into a new role and trying to figure out how he can fit in, and I don’t want to use the term reinvent himself but maybe playing a role different for him from the majority of his career and some of the sacrifices he’s had to make.”
So here we are.
Just to re-set:
Melo in the last year: Last summer Anthony was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He was waived by the Hawks and they even sent him his jersey. He then signed with the Houston Rockets and played ten games before they sent him home. He was then shipped to the Chicago Bulls before the NBA’s trading deadline and was waived.
Now an NBA free agent, what’s next?
According to my esteemed Heavy colleague, Sean Deveney, Anthony is said to be in good shape and his resume as a scorer is sterling and representatives of Anthony are fighting the perception that Anthony can no longer be a functional team player.
“He has been the scapegoat for a few teams that didn’t play up to their potential,” one source said. “Obviously that is sticking with him. They’re showing teams he can play, but they’re also making the case that the negative reputation stuff is BS, that he is not a team-killer, that other people put blame on him the last few years that he didn’t deserve.”
Steve Nash put his two cents in.
“Melo’s a Hall of Famer,” Nash told Landon Buford of Fanactics View.
“One of the truly great scorers the league’s had. He’s still got something to offer and I hope he lands on a team.”
Will Carmelo Anthony play in the NBA this season? Time will tell. NBA training camp begins later this month.