At the time, Carmelo Anthony ripped the Oklahoma City Thunder for the diminishing role he had with the team in 2018 (a disappointing team that was bounced in the first round of the playoffS). The reality was setting in: Anthony was used to starting, dominating the ball, and being the focal part of the attack, but he was no longer good enough to warrant that large a role. Anthony didn’t want a sixth-man role coming off the bench. He did want his $27.9 million player option, which led to a messy exit where he ended up in Houston.
Everyone tends to remember their past fondly — psychologists call it “rosy retrospection” — and that’s how Anthony now remembers his time in Oklahoma City, as he told J.J. Redick on “The Old Man and the Three” podcast (hat tip Forbes):
“For me personally, I actually really enjoyed my time at OKC. That team, I enjoyed it. Being around those guys, I enjoyed it. Granted, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. The goal was to win with that team. We didn’t do it. We underachieved.”
“And in our minds we’re just like ‘yo listen man, we’re coming back next year, we’re gonna be good. This is new to everybody. Russ, this is your team, I’m coming off an All-Star year in New York, so I’m like let’s put this all together.’ It didn’t work out. It all came down to money. I already knew what I was up against…I wish OKC would’ve worked out.”
Anthony ended up on the Rockets for 10 games at the start of next season and then was out of the NBA for more than a season. When he joined a shorthanded Portland team last season he was healthy, rested, and willing to accept a role he would not before. ‘Melo played solidly for Portland in that role.
Anthony is a free agent this summer and most likely re-signs in Portland, but other teams (with a little more money to spend) could come calling. He will have a decision to make. Whatever he decides, he should look back on his time with the Trail Blazers fondly.