After sitting out of professional basketball for a little over a year, Carmelo Anthony is expected to make his return to a National Basketball Association court on Tuesday evening when his Portland Trail Blazers play the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Anthony, the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft,signed a non-guaranteed deal which will reportedly pay him $14,490 for each day he is on the Blazers’ roster.
The deal will become fully guaranteed on Jan. 7 if he’s still on the roster.
It’s a start. Just two weeks ago, he shared that he was 2000 percent returning to basketball this season.
“Put that in the headline,” Anthony told me.
“I think it’s very important that people remember that the Carmelo that we all kind of cherish; like the best version of Carmelo that’s in the past,” The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“He’s seven years removed from his last scoring title. Obviously with his heyday with the Knicks, no one is going to be able to take that away from him. And even for the old oldheads, early career Melo in Denver when he was just getting bucket after bucket after bucket, that’s not where he is at this stage of his career. I think unfortunately what we saw in Oklahoma City and Houston were some real, serious struggles on how to keep up on the defensive end. The lateral quickness, the energy level, it just wasn’t quite where it needs to be. I think especially the play in this modern NBA style; which is so fast and players are moving up and down the court so constantly, it was just a tricky fit for him.”
Anthony, a ten-time NBA All-Star joins a 5-9, 12th place Blazers ball club that is thin in the frontcourt with injuries to key players like Zach Collins, Pau Gasol and Jusuf Nurkic.
“I always kept my eyes on Portland,” Anthony said via his YouTube channel on Monday.
“It just didn’t work out at other times, but now it seems like a perfect opportunity. Me and Dame, we’ve been talking for the past couple years, just off and on, CJ has been playing in my Black Ops runs for the past four years. I just look at that opportunity, that team and say, look ‘this is what I can bring to the team, this is where I can help.’ It will only work if all parties see it the same way.”
Anthony has career averages of 24 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and the Rockets.
He’ll team up with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in Rip City.
“I think for Portland it said more about them than it said about Melo because they’re off to a 4-8 start,” Ben Golliver told me via the Scoop B Radio Podcast on Friday.
“I think the signature game of their season was when Damian 60 points. He outscored all of his teammates combined and they still lose at home to the Brooklyn Nets. It just kinda shows he doesn’t have a lot of help there, there’s been a bunch of injury issues especially Zach Collins going out with a shoulder injury. That’s been a big hit for them and they’re just trying to plug holes in their rotation and their lineups and I think ultimately that’s what they’re looking for in Carmelo Anthony. They don’t want him to be part of the Big 3. They’re just bringing him in because they need live bodies who can kind of steal some minutes from Coach Terry Stotts. I’m actually in favor of this because it gives Melo maybe an opportunity to write a better closing chapter than he had in Houston. Things just did not go the way that people expected. All reports down there, he was a really good teammate, like the guys liked him. It just really wasn’t a basketball fit. It wasn’t like he was making any noise or complaining at all in the locker room.”
Carmelo Anthony is ready for his next. “It will only work if all parties see it the same way,” he said.
“What happened before is the past, I can’t dwell on that, I learn from that. This happened at a point in time in my life where I do have a lot of clarity and understanding of different situations and just life, and my approach is totally different.”
Ben Golliver says the narrative should change and should change for Melo’s legacy. “I also felt bad for him this summer when USA Basketball was kind of like: ‘Thanks but no thanks, we don’t want you on the World Cup roster,’” he said.
“I mean these are some real serious blows to a guy who obviously deserves to have a big ego given how good of a player he was during his hey-day. So I hope this could be a nice new chapter for him and maybe a closing chapter for him out there in Portland.”