Carmelo Anthony has been quite a difference-maker for the Portland Trail Blazers this season, and Damian Lillard wishes that he had arrived sooner.
On Friday, the Blazers guard spoke on Anthony’s impact and gave an interesting take on how the team might have fared with him last year.
“He should’ve been here three years ago,” said Lillard in a nod to Portland’s previous efforts to lure Anthony, per Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. “We get on his case about that all the time. I feel like we could have been in the Finals last year if we had him.”
If you recall, the Blazers made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals last season where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors then fell in the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors in six games.
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle here — Anthony’s offensive versatility and clutch shooting surely may have swung a couple of the close games against Golden State (two were decided by two points or less). But the Warriors, even with Kevin Durant injured, still had a healthy Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, which would have created matchup problems for Anthony on the other end of the floor.
Carmelo Anthony is ready to turn the clock back a few years in Orlando.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, the ten-time All-Star said that he is ready to play small forward for the Portland Trail Blazers in the bubble after losing some weight during the NBA shutdown.
“For me, I had that in the back of my mind, once coach told me the position that I’d be switching back to the 3,” Anthony said, per ESPN’s Royce Young. “I kinda challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3.
“That was a big motivation for me to come back at that exact weight or around that weight, 230, 235,” he added. “I haven’t seen 230, 235 since early, early in my career. So now it puts me back in a mindset of that from a confidence standpoint knowing that I was able to get back to that. On the court I feel good, I feel healthy. I have a lot of clarity, too. All of that was part of the plan.”
Video emerged this week of the 36-year-old looking noticeably skinnier during practice in the bubble. Officially listed at 240 pounds, Anthony had spent much of his career at the small forward spot but had been playing almost exclusively at power forward ever since leaving the New York Knicks.
While the last time that Anthony slimmed down did not work out too well, his trim physique is a good sign for a Portland team clawing for a playoff spot and doing so without usual small forward Trevor Ariza, who opted out of Orlando.
The NBA will resume its season with 22 teams in Orlando next month, but Carmelo Anthony is not sure if he will participate.
Anthony told Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson that he is “up in the air” about playing in the resumed season.
Concerns about the rigid rules of bubble life, as well as fears the restart could sap momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement so many NBA players are actively supporting, have led to a growing belief leaguewide that there will be players who choose not to play in Orlando
Terms of the restart that some players might find objectionable include a 48-hour quarantine upon arriving at Disney World and the inability to have visitors for 60 days while within the “bubble” environment.
After backing the 22-team restart via vote by team player reps, @TheNBPA said "various details remain to be negotiated" and final approval required that "all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play"
That agreement was expected by the end of this week
Recognizing that some players may be reluctant to participate in the resumed season under these circumstances, the league reportedly is coming up with possible solutions, such as having replacement players ready to fill in for players who get injured, opt not to play, or test positive for COVID-19.
Anthony is averaging 15.3 points per game for Portland, which is ranked ninth in the Western Conference standings.
The New York Knicks’ first attempt to bring back Carmelo Anthony ultimately fell through, but they could be trying a second time come this offseason.
Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reported on Friday that the Knicks will be looking to add a forward who can shoot and lists Anthony as one potential option. Begley notes that the team strongly considered signing Anthony last summer but that he fell out of their plans when they failed to sign the stars that they wanted to. New Knicks president Leon Rose was also Anthony’s agent for many years and “remain[s] close” with the ten-time All-Star.
Anthony, 36, had a revival of sorts with the Portland Trail Blazers this season after almost flaming out of the league. He averaged 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 37.1 percent from deep in 50 starts for Portland.
“I don’t think nobody will understand what I went through emotionally to get through and to be where I’m at today,” Anthony said, via Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “I’m talking about doubting myself. I’m talking about mentally wanting to give up.
“I hit rock bottom emotionally, and I had to build myself back up—basically by myself—to get here where I’m at today to be able to tell this story.”
Anthony has said previously that he was already mentally preparing for retirement before the Blazers came in with their offer. Now he’s averaging 15.3 points per game and has proven that he has a role in the NBA beyond this season. It sounds like he went through quite a bit to get back to this point.
Darko Milicic took the high road in response to some recent shade from Carmelo Anthony.
Melo was on an Instagram Live conversation with friend Dwyane Wade on Friday and talked about their careers. Anthony pretended not to know who was drafted ahead of him at No. 2 overall (Detroit took Milicic). Anthony also said that if the Pistons took him instead of Darko, he would have won a few championships.
Here is the rough translation via Google Translate. The takeaway theme is that Milicic was taking the high road.
“As for these stories, so if my story is not told, they thank God have succeeded – I have not. We are not kids, we are adults, I hope, mature to understand that life is full of ups and downs. Advice to them, since I consider them less good guys, you should not be judged and ridiculed when thank God you didn’t last time I am, and you didn’t have a job at the beginning of your career with a vain and meanwhile senile Larry Brown who might be trying to explain to you that what you are actually doing best is not good for you and trying to make you something you are not really and still be humiliated for everything you do well. As always, I wish them all the best and every honor on their careers and in further life, many successes and less condemnation,” he said.
Milicic was only 18 when he was drafted and barely played until he was traded to Orlando after three seasons with Detroit. Had he been selected outside of the lottery and later in the first or even the second round, he wouldn’t have been ridiculed for his career. Instead, he had the misfortune of being selected behind LeBron James and before Carmelo, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. You had four possible Hall of Famers in five picks, and Darko was taken ahead of three of them. That’s a rough legacy.
Carmelo Anthony has been a positive contributor for Portland this season, but Larry Nance Jr seems to think that he is just about at the end of the line.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward tweeted Monday that a big reason he wants the season to continue is so that he can get his Anthony Denver Nuggets jersey signed (along with his Vince Carter Toronto Raptors jersey).
One of the biggest reasons I want this season to continue is because I had bought a Vince-Raptors and a Melo-Nuggets Jersey to ask them to sign for me
While the 43-year-old Carter has already said that the 2019-20 season will be his last, Anthony, who is much younger at 35, has made no such assertion. His numbers this season for the Blazers (15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 37.1 percent from deep) also show that he can still produce.
True, the ex-scoring champ Anthony did not get an NBA deal until November this season and will be a free agent again come the offseason. But he is already getting buzz about a potential home for next season, so it seems like a safe bet that Anthony has at least one more year left in him.