ESPN’s Royce Young reported Friday that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Carmelo Anthony will part ways this summer via trade or using the stretch provision. The stretch provision allows the Thunder to spread Anthony’s 2018-2019 salary cap hit over the next three seasons. This was inevitable. Bringing Anthony to Oklahoma City last summer was a risk worth taking for the Thunder, but unfortunately, it did not work out. Melo spoke out after the team was bounced by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, expressing that he was not willing to accept a reduced role with the team next season. This was not going to fly for a team that was able to convince Paul George to stay in Oklahoma City, and aspires to compete with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors next season.
After Anthony’s availability became public, Mark Stein (@TheSteinLine) tweeted that the Rockets were interested in acquiring Anthony, according to league sources. Melo and Rockets point guard Chris Paul are both members of the notorious, “Banana Boat,” crew, along with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Paul’s relationship with Melo is the only thing that makes sense about the Rockets having any interest in the 10-time All-Star.
The Rockets were one Chris Paul hamstring away from potentially dethroning the juggernaut in Golden State. Does Daryl Morey, one of the brightest minds in basketball, think adding a 34-year old ball-stopper that no longer shoots the three well, cannot pass, and refuses to play consistent defense will add value to his team? No. Definitely not. I really hope not.
The Rockets game plan last year was to let James Harden take control of this offense, allowing Paul to compliment him. Harden, one of the most challenging players to guard 1v1 in NBA history, would isolate and either run pick-and-rolls with Clint Capela, or drive and kick to one of the three perimeter players on the court with Harden and Capela that could shoot, or swing the ball around the three-point line, often ending with a high percentage spot.
Last year, Melo shot a career low 40.4% from the field, and 35.7% from three. He is also not known for being the kind of player to fit into a motion offense. Mike D’Antoni coached Anthony in New York and we all know how that turned out. You really think D’Antoni wants to go down that road again? Morey is too smart to think that signing Anthony would help his team that almost beat the Warriors last season. If Houston goes through with signing Anthony, it will most likely end just like the Wade signing in Cleveland last season: a buyout and reunion with one of his former teams, if they even want him back.
The Miami Heat would be my pick for where Anthony should sign. His close friend, Wade, will most likely be back with the Heat next season, and based on the outlook for the Heat next year, Melo would have a better opportunity to have the large role he desires. Melo might also try to join LeBron in LA, but the Lakers, like the Rockets, are looking for role players that can shoot three-pointers at a high percentage. That is not who Carmelo Anthony wants to be nor the player he appears capable of being at this stage of his career.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the best scorers in NBA history, but if he is not willing to take a reduced role in the later stages of his career, I do not see why any competitive team would want to add him to their roster.
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