The NBA hasn’t been kind to Carmelo Anthony the past 14 months as he has technically been on four teams during that span. The New York Knicks traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder last September. His role with the Thunder was always in limbo from day one as the mere thought of coming off the bench was scoffed at on their media day. The Melo-Thunder experiment ultimately didn’t work out, as he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks as a part of a planned buyout that the Hawks performed. Carmelo was a free man, and he decided to sign a one-year deal to his current team the Houston Rockets, where he joined James Harden and longtime best friend, Chris Paul.
Those days however, seem to be nearing an end. ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that in the midst of an “illness” that had sidelined Carmelo, the Rockets and him were “discussing his role”. After a freak out on Twitter and many other sub-reports, Marc Stein reported the following:
NBA “blog boys” and journalists have been widely critical of Carmelo Anthony’s game and attitude dating back to his last couple years with the New York Knicks. As he was nearing his mid-30s, those people covering the NBA noticed apparent aging from him and an individual game that was becoming dated in the current NBA created in part by the Golden State Warriors. A product of an iso-heavy era (imagine Kobe Bryant still playing a role on a championship team today) Carmelo’s strong suits cause him to be a bit of a relic.
Melo could be a serviceable stretch 4 guy off the bench, which is what the Rockets were trying to do with him. His personality conflicted with that role obviously. He wants to be the Carmelo of old, in the 2 or 3 position as a bonafide bucket-getter in the starting lineup. The fact of the matter is that his athleticism and speed as a 34 year old just doesn’t allow for that.
NBA Players Against the World
Now the previous two paragraphs you read are from a “blog boy”. A “blog boy” who doesn’t necessarily have the most experience in analyzing the NBA. With that being said, I’m surely not alone in my thoughts across the landscape of NBA journalists. With the events of the past year, it’s obvious that at least some of the NBA front offices share the same thoughts. The Knicks relationship soured, the Thunder didn’t want him, and now the Rockets don’t want him. Hell, let’s not forget that the Atlanta Hawks could have had him if they wanted. That doesn’t include however many teams looked at him during this whole thing and just thought, “nah”.
There is a notable group of human beings that have incredible knowledge about the NBA that think Carmelo can still do some good in the NBA and is being disrespected throughout this process. That group of people is, of course, the actual NBA players. Many active players were vocal in defending Carmelo amidst the news coming out about him. LeBron James, Damian Lillard (kinda), and Dwayne Wade were the notable active NBA players coming to Carmelo’s defense, with Stephen Jackson also joining in via video saying Carmelo is being “blackballed”. Most of these defenses were about Carmelo being disrespected, which is up for debate. Nene, current Houston Rockets teammate, took all of that a step further prior to the season as he said that he believed Carmelo was still a top 10 player in the league. That, my friends, will be the most extreme Carmelo defense you’ll see.
Wade was the most assertive Melo defender through all of these present day tweets/social media posts, as he first said this:
It’s very interesting to see the divide in opinions regarding Melo between the people who work within the game off the court and the people who actually play the games on the court. For the sake of criticizing both sides, there’s a very obvious personal preference in the NBA players defense of Carmelo. Much of it is derived from the close “Banana Boat” friendship between LeBron, Wade, Carmelo, and Chris Paul. As for me and the rest of the “blog boys”, we’ve always been quick to cynical criticism as it has always garnered views and clicks.
Whether you side with the “blog boys” or the NBA players, it’s obvious that the future of Carmelo’s career is looking bleak. There’s precedent though for a former superstar that can still be productive while aging, and that is Vince Carter who is currently on the Atlanta Hawks. Half Man Half Amazing is 41 years old (!!!) and is still a positive contributor for the teams he plays for, albeit in a small fashion for below average squads. He used to be one of the best players in the league and as he grew old he learned how to change the way he played to better serve his age and role within whatever team he was on. I know the same NBA players who defended Carmelo also love and respect Vince Carter just as much, so it’d be interesting to see what they would say to the comparison that I, and others, have made.
That question will never be posed to the LeBrons and the Wades of the league, but Chris Paul was asked about whether or not he thought his friend would be able to help the Rockets turn the season around. He sort of dodged the question, and said this.
“Man, Melo’s a future Hall of Famer, know what I mean? That’s me saying that and knowing that. Like I said, we’ll see what happens.”
This is a very ugly moment in Carmelo’s career, but as I insinuated he can still be more than serviceable to an NBA team. The first thing he has to do is change his attitude. No matter how you shake it, no team is going to be a contender maybe even let alone a playoff team with Carmelo Anthony in the starting lineup. Those days are over and the fact that he continuously acts like they’re not, is laughable. I still think he can be a contributor for a contender though, as the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly might agree with me. He needs to play with a lot of energy on both ends though, as he should be able to in a limited role. Other than that to be properly maximized he just needs to nail catch-and-shoot threes, an area that the 76ers would love to fill right now.
It’ll be interesting to see if Carmelo can thrive for whatever team he ends up on next. It’ll also be interesting to see which side ends up being right when it comes to mid-30s Carmelo. I believe he can make his fellow NBA players look pretty smart, assuming he changes the way he looks at himself. That is a dubious assumption to make at this point, but we’ll see.