— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 23, 2018
After what feels like a decade-long chase, dating back to his days with the Denver Nuggets, it looks like Daryl Morey will finally reel in Carmelo Anthony. With the acquisition coming this late in Melo’s career, of course, this is understandably a bit anti-climactic, particularly coming on the heels of the dreadful season Melo just had last year with the Thunder. But there is still value here. As I broke down over at Forbes last week, Anthony is shooting a greater percentage of his shots from downtown than ever before, a role in which he will thrive in Houston.
It’s important to separate the assessment of Melo from the current perception regarding his decline. We’re just one-year removed from the sentiment existing that he might be one of the hidden undervalued assets in basketball. I certainly subscribed to that thinking last summer. Bloated contract, horrible team, but still a dangerous scorer who could potentially pay dividends if put in the right system.
One year later, we now know how he looks in the wrong system, playing next to Russell Westbrook, a relationship which makes anyone’s production suffer. That upgrade to Chris Paul might be one of the greatest in basketball this year, for a player looking to find their place. But Anthony was a complete and total liability defensively, and now he’s another year older. It’s not realistic to think he can survive heavy minutes against the Golden State Warriors.
But the news that Anthony will sign at the vet minimum makes this all the more palatable. (It further removes question over why the Rockets chose Anthony over Mbah a Moute, because…they didn’t.) This means Morey and his staff are not done. They’ll have monies available to further replace Trevor Ariza and the aforementioned Mbah a Moute. So everyone can stop freaking the f*** out. Because if Melo was meant as the replacement – well, then that’s reason to panic.
It’s a very low risk move with high upside, albeit possibly not as high as previously thought a year ago. Anthony can spell Harden and Paul of the scoring burden in stretches. And he probably helps from the 0-27 angle. But again, can the Rockets survive with him defensively? It’s a valid question.