Fan's Choice: Melo's NBA Future
Detroit Free Press
*This is the second edition of OTG's Fan Choice series. The concept of this series is to have the OTG readers/listeners pick one article topic every week. You can find more details on our Twitter page!*
Carmelo Anthony remains in purgatory as we enter December. The Houston Rockets announced on November 15th that the organization and Carmelo Anthony would be parting ways. Carmelo Anthony, who signed with the Rockets this previous offseason, cannot be traded until December 15th. The phone isn’t expected to be ringing off of the hook. Despite deciding to part ways with Anthony, he has not been waived officially by the Rockets. If Anthony is waived and clears waivers, the Rockets would be forced to pay his contract, which would add to their already high tax bill.
With Anthony’s last two homes in Oklahoma City and Houston not panning out, the question has become, what is Carmelo Anthony’s NBA future? The Oklahoma City Thunder have been vastly better without Anthony this season as they sit at 14-7 on the year. While the Rockets were 4-6 with Anthony, since parting ways they’re 7-5. Let’s be clear that Anthony was not the sole reason the Rockets were struggling, but his style of play and ego wasn’t a fit. On the year, Carmelo Anthony is averaging 13.4 points per game, 5.4 rebounds per game on 40.5% from the field and 32.8% from three.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN has reported that several league executives believe we have seen the final NBA game featuring Carmelo Anthony. If that is the case, oddly enough that “final” game will have been against the Thunder. In that game Carmelo Anthony finished with 2 points, 5 rebounds on 1-11 shooting. Surely, this is not the way Anthony would plan to have his career end. So now again, back to the question. What is Carmelo Anthony’s NBA future?
The days of Carmelo Anthony being a pivotal member of a playoff team are over. This latest stint with the Rockets solidified that. The game has continued to evolve while Anthony has gotten older and slower, making him a defensive liability. There’s no place on some teams that have rumored interest in Anthony such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers. There’s no way in hell LeBron James has interest in playing with Anthony despite their friendship. Unless Anthony is prepared to take a role where he is rarely playing, which doesn’t seem like something Anthony would have an interest in.
Looking across the rest of the NBA landscape, the only playoff team I see that makes some sense would be the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are playing really good basketball right now despite lacking a seriously threatening offense. It’s possible that Anthony could find a role there off the bench with his only objective to score. Again, we haven’t seen Anthony score effectively or efficiently in sometime and at this point we should accept that those days are gone. However, the Pistons have very little cap space, but they very well could take the chance.
Aside from Detroit, the only other possible NBA future for Anthony is playing for a team that is rebuilding or on the cusp of the playoffs. A team like the Miami Heat. Close friend to Anthony, Dwyane Wade is in the final year of his career and could convince Pat RIley to take a chance on Melo. Yes, this move isn’t earth shattering, but the Heat are kinda stuck with rebuilding being the only logical choice either sometime this year or after Wade laces them up for the last time.
The last possible NBA future for Anthony would be on a team looking to add a veteran presence that isn’t playing for anything. That list of teams includes the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers among others. A happy ending story could be Carmelo Anthony heading back home to the New York Knicks to finish his career. As you can tell from this quick look around the league, the sad reality is there’s not an ideal fit or situation for a 34 year old Anthony, who can’t defend and relies heavily still on isolation basketball and long twos.
If there was a Vegas line on where Anthony would land I’d place my money on the Miami Heat. If the Heat pass on Melo, then we likely have seen the last of him this season and possibly forever. I also urge everyone to not forget who Carmelo Anthony was in the prime of his career, he’s still a hall of famer.