I feel like I’ve had variations of this same title for the better part of the last decade. But here we are again. As I type this, the rumor mill has heated up regarding a potential buyout by the Oklahoma City Thunder of Anthony’s deal, leaving the small (power?) forward free to choose his destination. Recall that last year, Anthony was hell-bent on joining the Rockets until he wasn’t, eventually obliging to a trade to the Thunder. I wanted him last year, and am not sure how I feel this year, though I think I support the deal mainly for the intrigue. Anything that can raise this team’s ceiling is a positive, even if it affects their floor, to the extent that such a thing is possible when dealing with a 65 win team.
Recall that last year, I posed the conspiracy theory that Daryl Morey actually didn’t want Melo or at least didn’t want him as much as everyone assumed and the whole saga was a ruse to appease Chris Paul. I don’t know if signing Melo to the full mid-level blows that up because that currency is not quite the same cost as the multiple first rounders it was looking like it would take to get someone to take Ryan Anderson. But now the team has lost Luc Mbah a Moute to the Clippers over that same pot of funds! What in the world is going on!?
The case for Melo is that Paul can make him efficient in ways that Russell Westbrook, by his very nature, cannot. Chris Paul will seek out a natural scorer like Anthony and strive to feed him as his foremost priority; I don’t need to spell out the juxtaposition. And of course, I believe after watching the Conference Finals, that elite isolation scoring is necessary as a counter-reaction to today’s modern defensive philosophies. It’s like we’ve almost come full circle to the 90’s, but at the very highest levels.
The case against, of course, is that Houston was only competitive against the Warriors because of, not their offense, but their elite defense. Playing time for Anthony mitigates that strength. How does Morey offset that effect, particularly with the losses of Trevor Ariza and Mbah a Moute? It can’t just be Anthony. If that’s the case, this team has taken a drastic step back. Blindly, I maintain my trust in Morey to figure it out. He usually does, and its only July 10th.