The fact we are a few weeks from NBA training camps opening and Carmelo Anthony doesn’t have a contract is stunning. The point of sport is to put the leather ball through the metal hoop, and Anthony can still do that quite well.
Yet here we are. David Aldridge of The Athletic asked a dozen coaches and team executives if Anthony has a place in the NBA and basically got a lot of “Yes, but…” answers.
Current NBA head coach: “Yes, with the right team. A vet team. Also, a team that is not looking at analytics. He is still a talent.”
There was a lot of praise but most of it tempered of concerns in the responses. How things ended his last two stops — on the bench for key parts of the Thunder’s playoff run, then out after just 10 games with the Rockets — plays into that. There’s a lot of questions about fit, both him on specific rosters and him accepting a role. His “team” is pushing back hard on the idea he’s not a good teammate and would not accept a role.
Still, the trepidation about that is out there.
Eastern Conference executive: “It’s all about if he will accept a role. (He can be an) off the bench scorer and locker room positive influence. He could make $5-7 million.”
Western Conference assistant coach: “I think he COULD. The issue might be his willingness to accept a certain type of role. It’s tough to take away minutes from a young ‘up and comer’ for ‘Melo right now, and risk limiting that young player’s growth curve because of it. I think that might be the thought across the board (even for contending teams). Someone might look to add him for a deep playoff run later though. I LOVE ‘Melo too, FYI!”
When I’ve talked to people around the league about ‘Melo, I got a lot of “he absolutely could still play in the league, he’s just not a fit with us” responses.
Nobody — not myself, not people I have talked to — question Anthony as a player. At age 35, the man can still get buckets. He’s evolved into a fairly heavy isolation player 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 smaller role.
Anthony is going to get another chance. Eventually. Some teams need bench scoring (or will after an injury), and Anthony should be able to provide that. Whether we will see him suit again with a contending team or not, some team will make an offer.
Then we will see if Anthony is lives up to his word of accepting a role.