Carmelo Anthony has suddenly become a prime target for Boston Celtics fans across the globe, as many view him as a ready-made replacement for Danilo Gallinari, following the veteran’s recent ACL injury.
In terms of filling a specific role, Anthony is unquestionably the best option available to the Celtics at this juncture of the off-season, as he’s proven capable of being a scoring catalyst off the bench.
This past season, Anthony was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and came off the bench in 66 of his 69 appearances for the team, averaging 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds on 37.5% three-point shooting and 52.1% shooting from two-point range.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Bobby Krivitsky, the only question about potentially adding Anthony to the Celtics rotation is whether the front office is willing to absorb another significant blow to their already lofty tax bill.
“Signing him (Anthony) for the veteran minimum would cost $2.9 million in player salary and a $10 million luxury tax hit. If ownership’s willing to stomach that, signing Anthony is a logical way for the Celtics to fill the newly created void for another second-unit scorer…As a future Hall of Famer and one of the top scorers of his generation, Anthony would have influence in the locker room. He can provide a lot of value as a mentor, teaching the game and what he’s learned from what he’s done right and wrong in his career,” Krivitsky wrote on September 4.
Of course, the front office is facing an increased tax bill regardless of how they choose to move forward unless they opt to stand pat and enter the season as currently constructed – but given how Gallinari was projected to have a significant role within the team’s rotation, that looks unlikely.
Anthony Fits Boston’s Needs
When you think of what role Gallinari would likely play for the Celtics in the coming season, it is that of a bench scorer, stretching the floor and easing some of the shooting pressure from the likes of Grant Williams and the rest of the bench unit.
Anthony can give you a similar level of impact, especially on the perimeter, where he remains a legitimate threat both off the catch and when spotting up. In fact, since making his move to a bench role in 2020, Anthony has averaged 39.1% from deep on 5.2 three-point attempts per game and has developed a knack for when to attack a close-out or let it fly in a defender’s face.
Anthony is a legitimate pure scorer, and arguably the only three-level scoring threat remaining on the free agency market that would fit into the Celtics’ current scheme and price range. The notion of having Anthony, Grant Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, and Luke Kornet as scoring threats off the bench is enough to get any Celtics fan excited for the new season, and the versatility those four scorers would give Ime Udoka in his schemes would be a huge upgrade on what we saw from the second unit throughout the 2021-22 season.
DeMarcus Cousins is Another Option
Unfortunately, Gallinari is a multi-positional player, capable of spending time at both the power forward and center position, and right now, the free agent player pool capable of playing across the front court is minimal.
However, one player who could absorb minutes at both the four and five is DeMarcus Cousins, who is coming off a successful spell with the Denver Nuggets, in which he proved himself capable of being an impactful big man off the bench.
If Boston is steadfast in wanting a player who can split his time between two positions, to allow both Al Horford and Robert Williams additional rest days throughout the season, adding Cousins could be their best bet – especially as he’s still capable of giving you impactful minutes off the bench.