We’re literally a week away from the start of the 2019-20 NBA regular season and Carmelo Anthony still has yet to find a new team.
In fact, the last time the 10-time All-Star played in a game was nearly a full year ago on Nov. 8, 2018 when his Houston Rockets fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 98-80. It was a terrible game by Anthony, as he scored just two points on 1-of-11 shooting in a nationally televised game against his former team in Oklahoma City.
Little did we know that that would be Anthony’s last appearance in an NBA game. The Rockets benched Anthony after that game and would keep him inactive until they finally traded him to the Chicago Bulls where he would be promptly waived without appearing in a game with the franchise.
Anthony Can’t Switch on Pick-and-Rolls
Even with his late career struggles and lack of fit during the NBA’s three-point revolution, why hasn’t Anthony latched onto another NBA team? According to a new report by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, the veteran forward’s career is likely over not because of his lack of three-point shot — it’s because of his lack of ability to switch when on defense.
“One rival front-office executive notes that the league’s 3-point revolution makes it harder than ever to hide players who aren’t strong defenders. He’s talking about Carmelo Anthony — someone, he says, “who can’t defend, can’t close out, his feet are slow and he gets blown by.” More than ever, offensive teams will repeatedly target weak defenders in pick-and-roll actions, the executive adds.”
Anthony’s inability to switch on pick-and-rolls — a common play utilized due to the NBA’s three-point revolution — makes his prior defensive weaknesses even more magnified in today’s game. Holmes points out a statistic that reveals just how bad Anthony is on switches by pointing out how the Thunder pulled off a massive comeback against the Utah Jazz without the veteran small forward in the 2018 playoffs.
“And that very thing had played out in real time for Anthony during his Oklahoma City stint — most notably during the Thunder’s 2018 first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.
In that series, which the Thunder lost in six games, Anthony was the screen defender 157 times, per Second Spectrum; he was being targeted by a Jazz offense looking for switches. That figure was the second highest for a Thunder player in that series; only Steven Adams (186) had more. Then, in Game 5 of that series, Anthony was subbed out of the game in the third quarter with the Thunder trailing 71-52. With him on the bench, the Thunder roared back and took an 88-87 lead, further evidence of a trend that continued: The Thunder were minus-9.7 in that postseason with him on the court and plus-5.3 with him on the bench.”
The Rockets Feel ‘Awful’ for Signing Anthony
Considering the Rockets are such an analytics-driven franchise, why bring Anthony on board in the first place, knowing his weaknesses?
Apparently, Houston was so desperate for offensive help that they believed Anthony’s offensive strengths outweighed his defensive shortcomings. Obviously, that was not the case. In fact, the Rockets apparently felt guilty about acquiring Anthony in the first place as they feel they exposed his weaknesses — the Rockets switched on 44 percent of their screens last season, the highest in the NBA.
“I feel awful that it ended the way it did,” says another Rockets source. “He would have been better off either going to Miami or just not playing. But those 10 games … basically ruined him.”
With no teams showing interest in the former NBA scoring champion, who would have thought Anthony would end his storied career like this?
The answer? No one. Not even Anthony himself.
Let’s be real — Anthony is not signing with another NBA team. If it hasn’t happened yet after all of the turmoil in the league over the past year, it’s not happening in the future.
Anthony has played his last game in an NBA uniform. And it’s time for all of us — including Anthony — to accept that.