Carmelo Anthony is back in the NBA and it’s a very fun feel good story. There was a period of time when it didn’t feel like Anthony was going to return to the NBA and end his career on his own terms. His solid play for the Trail Blazers that they recently guaranteed his contract, however, and have made him a regular part of their starting lineup. He’s having a nightly impact.
When Melo fell out of the NBA, it was a little difficult to take in, but it made sense given how poorly his career went after the Knicks cut ties. His time in Oklahoma City didn’t go well and the brief period that he played for the Rockets in Houston was even worse. Anthony felt that he didn’t get a fair shake in Houston — essentially removed from the team after only 10 games and eventually traded away to get his contract off the books.
Anthony isn’t the only player to have a rather abrupt ending with the Rockets organization. Last summer, star point guard Chris Paul was shockingly traded to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook shortly after GM Daryl Morey had made it a point to say he was not trading Paul. But the NBA moves fast and Morey made those statements before Westbrook became available. Still, it left Paul feeling a little betrayed by the Rockets. According to a story by ESPN’s Nick Friedell, Anthony said he warned Paul that something like this could have happened.
“No, I wasn’t surprised at all,” Anthony told ESPN after his team’s 108-96 loss to Paul and the Thunder on Sunday. “When my situation happened in Houston, he was the first person that I called to come to my room. And we had to clear some things up, and I wanted to know if he had anything to do with it. And that was the first thing that I wanted to know, and he told me, ‘No.’ And from that point on, I told him, looked him in his eyes and said, ‘Look, just be careful.’ You know what I mean? Just be careful. And damn sure if [the same situation] didn’t happen to him.”
It’s interesting to hear Anthony make these kinds of comments because he seems to hold way more resentment over his situation than Paul. While Paul seems to speak about it mainly from a perspective of this being a business, Anthony still talks about his exit from Houston as a point of betrayal. This could also be related to how, after his tenure with the Rockets ended, he almost fell out of the NBA completely. So it makes sense that he would have some extra resentment for that organization. And despite saying that he’s over it, he’s still talking about it.
“I haven’t talked to nobody in their organization, no,” Anthony said. “I’m not angry. I’m not bitter at it. It happens. I wish I had an explanation when it happened, but I’m past it.”
The problem for Anthony is that, while the Rockets could have absolutely handled these situations better, they didn’t do anything wrong from a basketball perspective. Houston saw what it perceived as an upgrade in Westbrook so it took that route. Anthony was having one of the worst shooting seasons of his career and that was a continuation of poor shooting in Oklahoma City. The reason he fell out of the NBA is because the thing he did best, putting the ball in the basket, was no longer something he could do.
It’s fantastic that he’s back to playing well in Portland, but there’s an important context here that can’t be ignored. Hopefully, he’ll continue to play up to the level people expect of him and, whenever he feels his time in the NBA is done, he’ll get to leave on his own terms this time.