Last season, Carmelo Anthony averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds on 44.1% shooting for the Los Angeles Lakers. Over the summer, there was an expectation that Melo would sign an extension with the Lakers, or get a veteran’s deal elsewhere. Now, we’re halfway through the 2022-23 NBA season, and he is still a free agent.
It absolutely baffles me that nobody has even given Anthony a look. Obviously we are long removed from the days when he would rock Madison Square Garden on a nightly basis, dropping 30 bombs on teams like it was a routine. However, there is no doubt that even at 38 years old, Melo can still play.
Since he was traded from the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, Anthony has been reduced from a superstar to a role player. A brief absence from the NBA in 2019 saw him return with the Portland Trail Blazers, thriving in his role as a knockdown shooter. After a little under two years in Portland, Melo took his talents directly south, to the Lakers. Even at his age, he was still able to be effective, despite the Lakers missing the playoffs.
Anthony doesn’t seem too hung up about an NBA return. He and former teammate LeBron James both went to watch their sons matchup against each other in a high school basketball game last month, and in an interview with ESPN, the ten-time All-Star said, “Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be.” He mentioned that are some things that he just can’t control.
Melo can be seen on social media posting workouts and training videos, showing that he’s definitely in basketball shape. If there is an NBA return in the near future, there shouldn’t be any doubt that he can run with the rest of the league.
The only problem is Anthony’s defense. He has been known to be a below-average defender, which is a turnoff for teams in today’s league, where highly skilled players are as often as they come. Still, he’s in shape, and can still shoot the lights out, and there are a lot of teams that need just that.
If he does get an NBA contract, it would most likely be at a veteran’s minimum, which isn’t an issue considering he’s made hundreds of millions of dollars throughout his career. Here are four teams that should consider signing Melo:
New York Knicks
What New Yorker wouldn’t want to see this happen? There were rumors over the summer of a possible reunion with Anthony’s hometown team. The Knicks are a fringe playoff team right now, and what they lack is shooting. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle aren’t exactly knockdown shooters from deep, and RJ Barrett has been struggling with his shot all season. With the Knicks ranked 26th in three-point percentage, seeing Anthony come off of the bench as a spot-up shooter would not only bring joy to Knicks fans, but would also bring depth and wins.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are in a tough spot. Hovering around .500 for most of the season thus far, Golden State wants to compete for another championship with their current roster. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green aren’t getting any younger, and their championship window is starting to close. Green and Andrew Wiggins already have the starting forward spots locked up, but GM Bob Meyers could offer Anthony a role as a backup forward. It would work well with second-year forward Jonathan Kuminga, better known as a slasher. Having a future Hall-of-Famer as a mentor wouldn’t hurt either.
The Bucks are also a team looking to contend, but their title hopes are more realistic, being a top-three team in Eastern Conference. The Bucks definitely have plenty of veteran talent, with Joe Ingles returning from injury, and Serge Ibaka not getting much playing time but still taking a roster spot. Like the Knicks, the Bucks are poor in terms of three-point shooting. They rank 20th in that category, so Anthony signing as a backup forward or even a shooting guard would only help, especially with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday struggling with injuries. Star player Giannis Antetokounmpo is a slasher, so it definitely wouldn’t have a negative effect on floor spacing.
Although the Nets don’t necessarily need shooting, they do lack depth. GM Sean Marks should first look to bring in a center to back up Nic Claxton, but having Anthony play 17-20 minutes per game wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. This is another team looking to win a championship right now, and they are red hot, ranking 2nd in three-point percentage and currently holding a top-three spot in the East. Guys like Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Yuta Watanabe are all worthy of their minutes, but besides spot-up shooting, they can’t create for themselves. That’s where Melo can come in and be effective while Kevin Durant is on the bench. It’s one more experienced player that can help come playoff time.
Wherever Carmelo Anthony does end up, whether it be in the NBA or retirement, there is no doubting his impact on the game. I think a lot of us NBA fans took Melo for granted. His departure from the Knicks was bittersweet, ending in turmoil with then-President Phil Jackson, and his absence from the NBA comes as a disappointment to many fans who grew up watching him thrive in a Denver Nuggets and Knicks uniform. The bottom line is, Melo. Can. Hoop.