Despite general focus on the upcoming football and basketball seasons for Syracuse, now seems like a good time to check in on Carmelo Anthony. An unquestioned member of the all-time squad at Syracuse and still the program’s most prominent NBA player, Melo has had a rough go of it lately. Following a rough season in Oklahoma City, where he was never really a fit, Melo’s buyout will see him land with a new team before the start of the 2018/19 season. The question is, what team offers the best chance for the former All-Star to resurrect his career?
Melo’s numbers were down just about across the board in his lone season with the Thunder, leading many in the NBA community to write him off. There’s widespread consensus that Oklahoma City will be better without him, and the prevailing image of Melo at this point seems to be that he’s something of a one-dimensional chucker who can’t hit shots. It’s not an entirely unfair assessment based solely on the 2017-18 season, and Melo probably hasn’t done himself any favors by stubbornly insisting that he’s still a starting player. But thinking back to the end of his Knicks tenure, it’s hard to imagine Melo’s game is simply gone. He’s still got it in him to be a useful contributor on the offensive end.
These are some of the teams with a realistic shot at landing him and where he could just manage to bounce back.
Los Angeles Lakers
With a little bit of cap space and several one-year deals on the books the Lakers have the flexibility to get Carmelo Anthony one way or another, and they may just offer him the best shot at redemption. After signing LeBron James, the Lakers jumped up in the title odds, not above the Warriors, but past the Celtics and 76ers, who are the trendiest picks out of the East. That’s the impact of James, and it’s a nice wave Melo could ride if he chose to do so. As much potential as the combination of James, some young potential stars, and a bunch of tough veterans on one-year deals seems to have, the Lakers lack shooting, which is just what Melo could provide. He might not get back to All-Star status, but running alongside his good friend James in Hollywood, Melo could feature prominently on a solid playoff team again.
By almost all accounts the Rockets are the likeliest destination for Melo. And, judging by reports and tweets from NBA insiders, Houston also seems to be the only team aggressively angling for the small forward’s services. Frankly, it’s a strange idea. The Rockets have two ball-dominant lead scorers in James Harden and Chris Paul, and their biggest offseason loss was Trevor Ariza – a forward valued for his two-way ability. Melo would more than replace Ariza’s scoring in all likelihood, but at this stage in his career probably can’t bring back his defense. This move sounds as if it’s going to happen though, and sets up the idea of a Houston team that’s simply going to try to outscore everyone this coming season. It’s an interesting setup, but it’s not how the Rockets nearly took down the Warriors a couple months ago.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland has had two great guards for several seasons now, and has also had a rotating group of good, if not great big men. Where they’ve never really had much going on is in the middle at the small forward position, and for this reason Melo would be a fairly natural insert if the Blazers could get him at a discount. At this point most wouldn’t consider Melo and Portland’s CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard a “Big Three,” but they would be an incredibly potent scoring trio if Melo comes out firing in 2018-19. That said, this team would have the same problem as Houston (not really being able to defend anyone), likely with a less potent offense. Melo might get more of an opportunity individually in Portland, but the team would be a little bit awkward.
No one seems to know what the Miami Heat are up to, though hunting for offense does seem to be part of the game. That’s at least judging by reports that the Heat may be interested in Jahlil Okafor, who’s had a rough go of it in his young career but certainly retains a scoring touch around the basket. Melo would also represent an offensive upgrade in Miami, and possibly a more natural fit given that the Heat already have Hassan Whiteside at center. Ultimately though, this would seem more like a personal decision than a basketball one for Melo. He’s known to be friendly with Dwyane Wade, and Miami is known to be a favorite place to live among NBA stars. That sounds like a fun situation, and Melo would be able to enjoy it while contributing to a decent – though not contending – team.
We’ll probably learn soon which if any of these teams Carmelo Anthony ends up with. For our part, we’ll hope it’s a situation he’s personally happy with as well as one that helps him rediscover his form.