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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Carmelo Anthony Receives Another Chance to End his Career on a Positive Note

The struggling, disappointing 4-8 Portland Trail Blazers--figuring that they have nothing to lose--have signed Carmelo Anthony to a one-year non-guaranteed contract that will become official assuming that he passes a physical. Portland made the Western Conference Finals last season but injuries to multiple frontcourt players have contributed to the team's slow start.

Anthony is a 10-time All-Star, six-time member of the All-NBA Team and the 2013 scoring champion. However, he has not averaged at least 20 ppg since 2016-17, and he has not shot at least .440 from the field since 2014-15. Anthony has not played in an NBA game since November 8, 2018, when he completed a 10 game stint in Houston during which he averaged 13.4 ppg on .405 field goal shooting while getting lit up like a Christmas tree on defense. During Anthony's last two seasons--78 games in 2017-18 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then his 2018 cameo with the Rockets before being cut--his never great defense became progressively worse, and he showed that he cannot provide enough at the other end of the court to make up for his defensive deficiencies. He also chafed at times at no longer being the focal point of the offense.

Many commentators have acted like it is a big mystery why Anthony has been out of the league for a year, but there is not a huge market for a high volume, low efficiency, past his prime scorer who wants to be the focal point of the offense when it is hard to put him on the court for extended periods of time without negatively impacting the team at both ends of the court.

By all accounts, Anthony is a nice person who treats his teammates, the fans, and the media members with respect. Many people are rooting for him.

However, it is unlikely that Anthony has regained the step that he had already lost by last year, or that he can be even minimally effective on defense. Perhaps a year out of the game, and only being able to return with a non-guaranteed deal, has humbled Anthony to the extent that he is fully committed to being a role player. If so, maybe he can provide a scoring spark off of the bench for 15-20 minutes a game while being carefully hidden on defense.

That would not be the career conclusion that Anthony envisioned a few years ago, but it would be much better than ending his career by being cut after just 10 games.

I don't believe that Anthony will be much more effective or productive for Portland than he was for Oklahoma City or Houston, but I hope that I am wrong, and that Anthony can finish his career on a relatively positive note.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:25 AM