The Houston Rockets finally signed Carmelo Anthony to the vet minimum of 1 year, $2.4 million. This was expected, but only became official on Monday. As many offseason moves do, this signing certainly raises some questions. However, the concerns surrounding this move gives fans and analysts a lot of reasons to be skeptical.
First, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni coached Melo with the Knicks. This relationship didn’t work at all, as D’Antoni likes a fast-paced offense with ball movement, spacing, and a very dynamic guard. He had this with the Suns when he coached Steve Nash, and has it now with James Harden. Melo was a very capable scorer, but he’s a ball stopper, and plays at a much slower pace than what D’Antoni prefers. With the Knicks, the offense had to go through Melo, which was ultimately why the relationship didn’t work out.
Second, Melo just came off the worst year of his career last year with the Thunder. He was forced to be the third wheel offensively, and was at most the fourth most valuable player on the team. He didn’t mesh well with the team, and didn’t want to do what most vets do to help the team – come off the bench.
In Houston, he’ll be at most the third wheel as well (behind James Harden and Chris Paul), and probably behind Clint Capella as well. The offense can’t run through him when either Paul or Harden are on the floor for sure, and he needs to be willing to make the appropriate sacrifices to help the team. I don’t know if he needs to come off the bench for the Rockets, but I do know his time with the Rockets will be much worse than the Thunder if he isn’t willing to do so.
Even with all those negatives, there are some reasons to think this could work. He can still score a lot of points. Last year was his worst year and he still averaged over 16 PPG. If he can contribute like that without taking away from Harden, Paul, and Capela, he can be very effective. He can also still shoot the three, as he shot 35.7% from beyond the arc last year, and he can probably revive his post game should D’Antoni want him to.
Lastly, remember that Chris Paul and James Harden meshed flawlessly despite all the concerns. Melo is a different player and the circumstances are different, but the Rockets do have a chance at turning Melo into a valuable asset instead of a liability. If Melo can accept that this won’t be his team, he will save his image. If he wants to be the go-to guy, he will completely ruin his image and never play on a team that wins more than 35 games after next year.
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