The NBA offseason has been pretty relaxed since its hectic beginning. As teams and players get ready to suit up for the upcoming NBA season, there’s one player still lingering around and making headlines: Carmelo Anthony.
A few years ago, no one would have seen this coming as Anthony was the face of the New York Knicks. The team continuously tried building around him and failed time after time. Since being traded the OKC Thunder, Anthony was a part of a failed experiment alongside Paul George and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and just didn’t seem to fit into the Houston Rockets system the next year.
Now, Anthony is still unsigned ever since leaving Houston early last year. It doesn’t seem like any team is very interested in signing the 35-year old Anthony either. He swears that he still has a lot to bring to the table, and there is no doubt in people’s minds that Melo is just as much of a scoring machine he was in his prime seasons with the Knicks, but even so, no one wants to sign Anthony.
The known explanation to why Anthony hasn’t been signed is because teams are worried that he won’t be willing to take a lesser role. Based on Anthony’s attitude towards the idea a few years ago, general managers have every right to have this concern. Before his lone season with the Thunder, Melo was asked at a preseason press conference if he would ever consider the idea of coming off the bench, in which Anthony jokingly responded saying, “Who, me?”
In Houston, Anthony was playing as if he had the same role he had on the Knicks—as if the offense revolved around him, playing very ball-dominantly. As a result, the Rockets were struggling mightily and started the season as one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. Hence, they let Anthony go and the system returned to normal as Harden helped bring the team back up the leaderboard as the season went on.
In an ESPN “First Take” appearance this summer, Anthony expressed his frustration and confusion with Houston. He said that when he became a member of the Rockets, he was under the impression that he was going to be a main part of the offense and a prime role player rather than just an extra addition to help the team. The confusion of Anthony’s role on the team is what led to the poor team chemistry and eventual release.
Anthony’s former teammate Chauncey Billups also chimed in on the conversation this summer, sharing a thought of his own. Regarding the question of why Anthony wasn’t on an NBA roster, Billups mostly blamed it on selfishness. He said that Melo was a great teammate, hard worker, and passionate player, but had certain standard that he wanted to reach every game in order to be satisfied. Billups mentioned, for example, that if the team got a win and Melo didn’t score a pleasing amount of points, he would be unhappy. On the contrary, if the team lost but Melo put up good numbers, he was unbothered.
It’s this attitude that Anthony has which makes it so difficult for him to be—or stay on—an NBA roster without negatively impacting the teams’ chemistry. It’s hard to blame him for thinking this way. Anthony was the centerpiece of the offense for every team he had ever played on throughout his entire basketball career. When he made his departure from New York, he didn’t expect to be handed a lesser role. The roles he was expected to play in Oklahoma City and Houston put him in a position he was completely unaccustomed to. Even if Anthony did understand the part he needed to play on his new team, he had an extremely hard time adjusting to it or was not willing to do so.
Is Carmelo Anthony good enough to play in the league? Absolutely. He’s probably more skilled than 65 percent of current players in the NBA, and his veteran experience could be very useful to teams and for the development of young players. However, Melo must be willing to sacrifice. He needs to understand that he can’t be the centerpiece of the offense anymore. It’s clear that the 6’8” forward can still shoot the lights out, but Anthony needs to translate his game and become less of a ball-dominant player. Otherwise, that takes away from team chemistry.
If Anthony can successfully do this, he’ll be a useful weapon for teams to utilize and could have a great ending to his respectable NBA career. Perhaps he could even win a championship before he retires. Melo is an all-time great, and this isn’t the ending anyone wants to see him have. The league is better with him in it; hopefully the star can get another opportunity to showcase his skills.