In the wake of his very public humiliation whereas Carmelo Anthony was treated like last dude on the roster, the future Hall of Famer has decisions to make about what happens next. Some of it is out of his control. Well, most of it really since he can’t hire himself. He needs a partner, someone to believe Carmelo Anthony can add something to a team. Call me crazy but I think a team will step up to the plate. It might not be who Melo wants, not a contender, not a team that gets him a ring but it keeps him employed.
Carmelo still has NBA game, just not NBA starter’s game because his foot speed is pretty atrocious and he has zero defensive instincts. He’s a scorer and that’s about it. But this year, the trend is for defense to pretty much be out the window. Half the league is averaging 110 points per game. No one is scoring less than 100 points. Teams in the playoff chase who need more offensive burst like Indiana, Utah, San Antonio and Brooklyn could use another scorer off the bench.
Brooklyn has lost their leading scorer (Caris LeVert) to a foot injury. Why not bring in the Knicks has-been to Brooklyn where Melo is still legendary and beloved, and, to a team that needs scoring . A veteran like Melo can help the young kids like LeVert, D’Angelo Russell and Jared Allen.
The Utah Jazz have a power forward in Derrick Favors that doesn’t score. Adding one that does helps the team with their offensive troubles. You can make this exact offensive argument for a handful of teams. All Melo needs is one. But the bad news for Melo is there has been a death by paper cuts of the Melo legacy where all that he cannot do is summed up and held against him as to why he doesn’t fit this modern three-and-d NBA.
The Carmelo career has always been about agony and ecstasy. Situational greatness but not able to carry or lead a team. A standout in the Olympics, memorable and efficient, but struggling Nov-April. Never a top-10 player, but always a cutthroat scorer. He has come, kicking and screaming, to a fork in the road with Houston, like he came to a fork in the road with OKC, the Knicks and Denver.
Perhaps Carmelo is supposed to remind of us of irony. He forced his way out of Denver in 2011. Seven years later, the Nuggets are rebuilt and a top-4 seed while Melo is on the outside looking in, waiting for his turn.
Recently there has been a lot of Allen Iverson comparisons. Both were teammates at Denver. Iverson struggled fitting in after he left Denver and was with the Pistons. He ended his Memphis run (and his career) because of a lack of playing time. Iverson didn’t adequately view himself the way everyone else did, he clung to his star mantle until the very end, blind and fighting to be who he used to be. That is the challenge for Carmelo Anthony who was never wired as a basketball predator. He was happy playing and scoring points and then going home. Nice guy. Nice game. A lot of folk want him to just go home.
His scoring is no longer efficient and is really an afterthought. Younger, quicker players do what Melo does but they do it quicker, with less dribbles and no Carmelo headache.
He could retire and live his life and put his NBA world behind him but he would be living in a failed dream void. He would be leaving on the Daryl Morey and Mike D’Antoni’s terms, their watch.
None of this would have happened if he signed with the Heat instead of the Rockets. The Heat need Melo’s offense when they go into their black hole and cannot score. Riles respects former stars and paying Melo the minimum would have made him ecstatic. But wanting so badly to win a ring and the Chris Paul comfort level made him discount the obvious. It never was going to work with D’Antoni. Never.
If given another chance this season, it won’t be about the ring but about the career and how it ends. There can be grace. If Melo wants it. He hasn’t wrung every ounce out of his career. He still has a lot left. But at the end of the day, he is waiting for the phone to ring and all I can think of is there is something wrong if Vince Carter can still lace them up in 2018-19 but Carmelo Anthony is watching games on television.