Former scoring champion Carmelo Anthony hasn’t played a game since November 8th with the Rockets. At 34, he still has some gas in the tank, but he’s running out of teams to play with.
Melo has had quite a rough time the last five years. After losing to the Pacers in the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals, it’s all been downhill for the superstar forward. That season was one of Carmelo’s best, posting 28.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game to lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record.
In the following 2013-2014 season, Melo had another good year, but it didn’t result in team success. He put up 27.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, but the Knicks finished 37-45, just a single game out of the playoffs. It was the first time in Melo’s career he had ever missed the playoffs.
Following the disappointing 2013-2014 season, Melo encountered a significant knee injury, which caused him to only play 40 games in 2014-2015. He played in the all star game, simply because it was hosted in New York, but didn’t return to regular season play.
Melo was never quite the same after that knee surgery, averaging around 22 points per game on lower shooting percentages the next two seasons with the Knicks. He seemed to lose his explosiveness and quickness, which made him such a lethal scoring threat earlier in his career. The Knicks returned to the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.
After another letdown year with the Knicks in 2016-2017, Melo had enough. He had seemed fairly disinterested the last few years, constantly burdened with a poor team and held back by his knee. He requested a trade – and eventually ended up with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Melo got a really bad rap playing for the Thunder, and it’s understandable, although a little unwarranted. In 78 games for the Thunder, Melo averaged 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists on just 40% shooting from the field. He was also a liability on defense, not being quick enough to guard more athletic forwards in the league.
His shooting efficiency simply wasn’t good, with a career low 40%. That was a bit of a shock, considering he was playing with the best setup man he ever had in Russell Westbrook. You’d think with open looks, Melo would thrive, but it just didn’t work. The Thunder and Melo agreed to split ways after the season, with Melo being traded to the Houston Rockets.
Even with his inefficient play, he still scored 16 points as a 3rd option. Melo can still play, but he needs to play smart, something he hasn’t always been able to do. He’s been quoted as laughing at coming off the bench, which is probably the best option for the star at this point in his career. All things aside, Melo can still contribute to a contender.
Brief Rockets stay
Melo had one of the shortest stays ever with the Rockets. He played in just 10 games, starting only 2 of them. Melo averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds on 40% shooting. He was having an inefficient season again, but he has had a few really good games this season.
In the Rockets 4th game of the season against the Jazz, he scored 22 points on 9-17 shooting. In the 5th game against the Clippers, he scored 24 on 8-18 shooting. Two games later against the Nets, Melo scored 28 points on 9-12 shooting. He followed that up with 17 points on 8-14 shooting against the Bulls.
In his last two games with the Rockets, Melo scored just 8 and 2 points. Those were just after a string of good games, which really seems like a case of Melo needing time to fit in. The Rockets had no interest in waiting though, deciding to trade Melo and stop playing him after just 10 games. The Rockets were 4-6 with Anthony in the lineup.
Lakers not next?
Clearly, Melo can still play if given a good opportunity. The man scored 28 points on 12 shots earlier this season, he still has it! There has been much speculation about where Melo might play next, including returning to the Knicks. People have also wondered if Melo might team up with Lebron in LA, but with the Lakers recent struggles, Melo is no longer interested.
If Melo wants to play for a contender, he still has many options. It would be amazing to see Melo in a Nuggets uniform again, and he’d do well coming off the bench for the young squad. I could also see him fitting in well with the Blazers. Another option would be the Bucks, but it’s unclear if there would be any interest there. If Melo doesn’t opt to join a contender this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back with the Knicks next year.