The next season is fast-approaching, and all kinds of changes are once again awaiting teams and players across the league. There’s a group that we can deem be pretty excited, but there are others who are bound to be frustrated.
For the Portland Trail Blazers’ 36-year-old forward Carmelo Anthony, it could very well be the latter as he will be competing for minutes with plenty of younger swingmen.
The Blazers just acquired ‘3 and D’ veteran Robert Covington and athletic forward Derrick Jones Jr., and they also have the returning Rodney Hood off an injury and 2019 first-round pick Nassir Little – Portland would want him to develop too.
Team executive Neil Olshey has also made it clear that Anthony is in a tough spot for now. Here’s what he told Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports:
“He’ll probably come off the bench. I think he can be featured more with the second unit. Depending who starts at three, we assume it’s [Robert Covington] and [Derrick Jones Jr.], there may not be as many shots there for him. So being able to feature him with the second group, getting him some post ups, have him be more of a target for plays with that second group, probably gives him a higher usage.”Neil Olshey
Portland is hoping for the best, but the team should know that the path ahead could be rough since Melo has relented being a bench player in the past. He’s an incoming 18-year veteran who’s a multiple-time All-Star, top 20 all-time scorer, and future Hall-of-Famer, so there’s a lot of pride and ego in that department.
Anthony, as you know, has struggled to fill such a role on two separate occasions – first was in the 2017-18 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he refused to the role and became the odd man out in the supposed Big Three with Russell Westbrook and Paul George; the second was his short stint with the Houston Rockets in 2018-19, when he basically walked out on the team after just 10 games.
For all his faults, though, he did deliver good comeback this past season. He signed with the Blazers one month into the 2019-20 campaign and became an immediate starter, averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 58 games. He also had his moments during the playoff push and the actual postseason.
Then again, ‘the comeback’ is actually good and bad – good because it generated a lot of confidence, and bad because Anthony could again be egotistic in accepting a different role.
Melo is a certified all-timer, but let’s hope he’s mature-enough to transition his game into a new phase. While the Blazers can benefit from his offense, they also need the youthful energy of the younger guys.