Carmelo Anthony had a disastrous tenure with the Houston Rockets under former coach Mike D’Antoni. He only played 10 games in the 2018 season and saw himself sidelined a whole year because there were no takers. The former star looked like he was looking to retire until the Portland Trail Blazers gave him a chance.
Melo proved that he could still play in the league at a high level. He may not be the same player we once saw dominate in Denver and New York; however, he has become a valuable asset for the Blazers in terms of putting up points on the board and rebounding the ball.
Why Carmelo Anthony Returned
Portland is usually not a known destination for many free agents as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and Miami seem like an ideal fit in terms of playing basketball, location, and branding.
However, it was a different case with Anthony as he played in New York in the past. There were many other contenders that could have used his services for a championship run.
Melo definitely had many options as the NBA saw glimpses of old Melo from time to time. Joining his friend LeBron James in Los Angeles or his friend Chris Paul in Pheonix were options many fans speculated about.
However, having a conversation with Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey was a big part as to why he decided to return for another season. Carmelo Anthony in a recent podcast appearance with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Anthony spoke about the organization and protecting his legacy as a basketball player.
At one point in the podcast, Melo stated that, “In this situation here in Portland, my biggest thing was let’s be honest with each other. Let’s be transparent with one another, whatever it is, let’s put the options out there on the table and if I feel comfortable with that, then I’ll get back to you guys and we can work on that.”
The NBA Bubble In Orlando
That conversation with Neil Olshey took place during the second half of the season in the bubble in Orlando. He seemed to find a role on the Portland Trail Blazers and looking comfortable playing in the system.
In the bubble, he averaged 15.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in Portland’s five postseason games before they were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers. The second half of the season was one of the reasons why he decided to return to the Blazers.
During the free agency process, Anthony kept in close contact with the two Blazers’ stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, in addition to Olshey. For a team that is not in a big market, the Blazers have proven to be a force in the league. Melo felt like the team can do something special in the upcoming season.
Melo felt that the organization did its best effort in terms of honesty and transparency even if the two parties were not close to an agreement.
At the end of free agency, the 10-time All-Star and future Hall of Fame forward re-signed a one-year veteran minimum contract.
The Blazers made several other moves in the offseason for another playoff push. Look for them to make other moves before the trade deadline as they currently sit in 6th place in the Western Conference (18-14).
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