Joe Johnson was out of the NBA last season after a stint in Houston where things did not go as he or the Rockets envisioned. However, after an impressive summer in the Big3, Johnson is getting another look from teams — he’s already worked out for the Sixers and the Bucks, Nets, and Pistons reportedly are bringing him in for workouts.
Carmelo Anthony is not getting that break. While he has worked out hard this summer and campaigned for a spot — and had friends such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving campaign for him — teams have not brought him in for formal workouts.
The difference: The perception of willingness to play a role. Teams think that Johnson would be willing to accept a smaller role, happily come off the bench for limited minutes (with the odd DNP being possible), mentor young players, and contribute positively to the team culture. Sources around the league have said teams are not convinced Anthony would accept that role after his time in Oklahoma City and Houston (where he didn’t do so willingly).
Anthony’s camp is pushing back hard against this perception, reports Sean Deveney, writing for Heavy.com.
His representatives are fighting the perception that Anthony can no longer be a functional team player, that his scorer’s mentality and past complaints about his roles make him a net negative for any team with high aspirations. According to league sources, his representatives are fighting that perception, “aggressively.”…
The case is two-fold, the sources said. First, there is the idea that Anthony was used as a scapegoat, which began in New York after the 2016-17 season, then for the Oklahoma City Thunder the following year. Last season, it was Anthony who took the fall for the 4-6 start in Houston. He was let go after 13 games and no other team re-signed him. But Anthony’s camp has been pushing the line that he got more blame than he deserves in each case…
The second leg of the pitch Anthony is making to teams could prove to be appealing when it comes to those concerned that Anthony would be a locker-room distraction: He’s a good distraction.
The pitch is that he’s a guy liked by fellow teammates — very true, ‘Melo is one of the most respected and popular veterans in the league — and that he would draw media attention but be a positive on that front.
Anthony made a media tour this summer saying he would willingly play whatever role a team wanted from him. His camp is now apparently working that angle behind the scenes. However, the narrative that he has been a scapegoat with three teams — if he’s not accepting responsibility for part of what went on — will not necessarily help his cause with other teams. (To be clear, maybe Anthony taking some responsibility is part of the pitch, I’m simply saying it needs to be.)
Nobody question’s ‘Melo the player — he’s a future Hall of Famer. First ballot. Anthony, at age 35, can still get buckets but in recent years has worked (and wanted the ball) more in isolation (something that really started with the Knicks). He’s long been a guy who thrived that way because he’s a difficult matchup and he was one of the best tough shot makers in the league. However, as age has eroded his skills, his efficiency has dropped and teams want him in a different role. Anthony has not slid seamlessly into that role.
At some point, maybe before training camp or maybe after the season starts, an NBA team is going to give Anthony a shot. There are teams that need bench scoring, and Anthony should be able to provide that. Whether we will see that again with a contending team or not, some team will make an offer.
Then we’ll see if Anthony will accept a role.