One of the worst kept secrets these days in the NBA is that former Syracuse standout Carmelo Anthony will soon be a Houston Rocket.
If and when that becomes a reality, Anthony needs to do one thing above all else: make the most out of being the third wheel.
Having worn out his welcome on a team for a third time in his career this past season in Oklahoma City, it is becoming more apparent that Anthony’s position of “my way or the highway” has led to more miles on the interstate than team success the way he thinks it should be done.
First, he was jettisoned out of Denver after being at odds with head coach George Karl. Then, after pushing for a trade to the New York Knicks and getting his wish, he eventually grew tired of that scene and asked out of the Big Apple. He got what he wanted again and was sent to the Thunder last season to team up with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Not happy about his role late in the season and stating he did not want to come off the bench this upcoming season, Anthony and the Thunder mutually decided it was best if they go their separate ways.
Anthony was officially traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. And all you need to know about how the mighty have fallen is this: the Hawks will pay Anthony $27.9 million to NOT play for them. The trade allows the Thunder to save $73 million dollars between salary and luxury tax ramifications. For Anthony, once the Hawks waive him, he will now get the opportunity to choose his next destination.
All accounts suggest that next chapter will be in Houston. The Rockets were a team that made the conference finals and many believe were a Chris Paul injury away from a series win over Golden State.
Best-case scenario, though, has Anthony being the third option on a team that stars Paul and James Harden.
So, for Anthony, who averaged 16.2 points per game last season (a career low by more than four points a game), shot career lows in field goal percentage (40.4 percent) and three-point percentage (35.7 percent) but did make more 3-pointers than any other season, what will Anthony be asked to do more than anything for Houston? Spot up and shoot 3-pointers, of course…which is not exactly something he aspires to do.
“I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player,” Anthony said, referring to being a spot-up shooter with the Thunder last season. “I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player.”
Guess what, Melo? That should be your role, at least on a team that has championship aspirations.
Gone are the days where you will score almost 30 points a night. After 16 years in the league, you are no longer a first option. And you know what? That’s OK…
Go to Houston. You may not get 20 shots a night. But you’re going to get good shots for a team that likes nothing more than hoisting 3-pointers and racking up points. Houston’s 1,619 3-point attempts last season (42.3 per game) set an NBA record, after breaking the record in the previous season, too.
Houston is good. Real good. For a player who has only even sniffed the conference finals one time in his 16 seasons, one might think winning a championship would be the lone objective. If he joins the Rockets, Anthony may have his best chance at winning a ring.
Go to Houston. Play third fiddle to Harden and Paul. Score 16-18 points a night…and enjoy the heck out of it. Embrace everything about being part of what could be a special team instead of worrying about whether you’re the MAIN part of it.
Anthony has all the money he could ever ask for. He has achieved statistical success the likes of which few in the NBA ever do. Winning a title would tie a pretty little bow on what would be a Hall of Fame career.
Let’s hope that if Anthony does, indeed, join the Rockets, his focus is more on what he can do for the team rather than the other way around.