Carmelo Anthony is getting treated like an old vet gets treated. His contract was traded to the Atlanta Hawks so it could be bought up allowing Anthony to become a free agent. All signs point to him signing with the Rockets.
As with all these types of signings, he’ll be heralded as the “missing piece” but just like Barkley wasn’t the “missing piece” in Houston neither is Anthony. By no fault of Carmelo’s, Houston got worse and Anthony can’t fix it.
Truth be told, he’s not a “missing piece” player. In that respect, he’s Allen Iverson. When Iverson went to Denver to help a young Anthony, they strung together very good regular seasons but could not perform in the playoffs. In the two playoff series, they never got out of the first round and finished with a 1-8 playoff record.
Anthony is a player you have to build around and adding him as a piece would’ve never worked anywhere. There are the dreamers who think if he’d signed in Chicago instead of signing back with the Knicks, that would’ve gotten the Bulls over the top but it wouldn’t have. Carmelo would’ve had to do something he’s never done in his career, fit into a structure not built around his skills. In that respect, he’s Allen Iverson.
New York had the right idea but the wrong execution. When Anthony first got traded to the Big Apple the Knicks had to place players around Anthony’s habit of holding the ball. You needed players who could make shots at the end of shot clocks or guys who were willing to crash the boards and get stick backs. There wasn’t going to be an equal opportunity setting on that end of the floor.
The Knicks were never able to put the right combo around Anthony. It was just more than Anthony’s salary which frequently gets overplayed in all this. It was the inability to find the right combination of players around him. Bringing in a second star wasn’t going to help the Knicks unless it was a star willing to be deferential.
Now that he is older, you can argue that he knows he’s the “third wheel” similar to what he was in his first and only season in Oklahoma City. It wasn’t as bad in OKC as many think. What changed the season was Andre Roberson’s injury. It was Roberson’s ability to cover perimeter players that helped the Thunder off to a solid start. They were 8-2 in their last 10 prior to the Roberson injury.
Why is this important? Because if you roll Anthony out here, you need to have a shut down defender on the roster. The Rockets had two pretty good ones in Trevor Ariza (Phoenix Suns) and Luc Mbah a Moute (Los Angeles Clippers). With both leaving via free agency, it sets up Anthony as the fall guy. The Rockets and their fans believe they were within a Chris Paul injury of eliminating the Rockets and adding a marquee name like Carmelo Anthony’s should make them even better. It won’t. The Rockets got worse because of their defections not because of Anthony but it won’t be viewed that way. Anthony will be the fall guy like he’s been everywhere he’s gone.
He couldn’t get the Nuggets over the top and demanded a trade to New York. He couldn’t get the Knicks over the top because their front office couldn’t put the pieces around him. Oklahoma City’s desire to get younger in spots and get out from under a killer luxury tax meant Anthony was expendable. Now, he heads to Houston, a team that had a coach that didn’t particularly care of Anthony and a roster that doesn’t stack up to Golden State’s.
Carmelo isn’t the answer in Houston and the Rockets will find that out. Anthony isn’t a “missing piece” and anyone who talks otherwise is doing nothing more than purporting a myth.