Carmelo Anthony returned to the NBA this week, after about a year of not playing. Melo, despite his talent has not had the success he wanted in the NBA.
He did not manage repeated, deep play-off runs with the New York Knicks. Something which, for many, was just another reason to be annoyed at the trade that brought Melo to the Knicks. A trade that Melo himself forced.
Looking back, it is easy to imagine that if the Knicks had managed to win a championship while Melo was there, that trade would be considered in a very different light. However, Melo was only one party in that trade, and only one player on a team. So it has always stuck me as harsh to lay all the blame, if blame is to be laid, at Melo’s feet.
Since leaving the Knicks, Melo has had one disappointing season at Oklahoma City Thunder (where the trio of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Melo spectacularly failed to set the league alight) and then an odd couple of weeks with the Houston Rockets (where he was clearly not performing as expected). Since then he has not played professional basketball, until this week.
I never understood the move to Houston given his history with the Houston coach so I wasn’t surprised that the Houston/Melo experiment didn’t work. I was surprised that he then spent so long without a contract. I am not privy to all the ‘insider’ rumours of the NBA but I can only assume that there were some rumours about Melo being difficult/demanding which combined with the underwhelming stat lines (from OKC and Houston) to make him an unattractive prospect. Even the Team USA Basketball World Cup team didn’t want Melo (though given their performance at this year’s World Cup they may be regretting that).
So why have Portland taken the chance on him? Well it is a non-guaranteed contract so this can be a short term experiment if they want. Plus he is a NBA vet, with experience of international games, who can still ball. In his two games so far with Portland he has averaged 26 mins, 14 points and 5.5 rebounds. This is a small sample size, but it’s not far off his career rebound average (6.5) and while it is a way off his career average points (24) it’s not bad for someone who has had such a career break.
Will this stint in Portland help to redeem Melo? Will he finally get the ring he craves? Realistically I don’t think that Portland are going to win a ring this year but if Melo can stay with Portland until the end of the season, and they can have a deep play-off run Melo might be on the road to redemption.