Carmelo Anthony said he won’t come off the bench, but the Thunder forward isn’t just looking ahead with indignation.
He’s also looking back with indignation.
Anthony, via Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
“The player that they wanted me to be and needed me to be was for the sake of this season…Everything was just thrown together, and it wasn’t anything that was planned out,” Anthony said. “It wasn’t no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player and things like that.
“As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge and that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player.”
Hanging over all this: Anthony holds a $27,928,140 early termination option for next season. If he’s that unhappy in Oklahoma City, he could decline it and sign elsewhere. Of course, he won’t get anywhere near that salary ever again.
So, this is probably the Thunder’s problem. Most likely, they’ll have an overpaid and demanding Anthony back.
The fundamental issue: After years of dominating the ball, Anthony is most comfortable playing that style. But he’s no longer good enough to warrant such a large role.
The simplest fix is Anthony coming off the bench. He might be good enough run the offense through when Russell Westbrook and Paul George sit. But Anthony’s pride won’t allow him to do that.
Smaller tweaks are possible. Oklahoma City didn’t acquire Anthony until just before training camp last year. This was a stark change. No rotation regular had a bigger reduction in seconds per touch and dribbles per touch. Perhaps, more time to prepare would pay dividends.
George could leave, though even just an Anthony-Westbrook pairing comes with complications. Anthony never played with such a high-usage teammate in New York.
But unless Anthony is willing to meet his team in the middle – coming off the bench, improving his off-ball game – there’s no quick fix in sight.