Carmelo Anthony's time with the Houston Rockets is all but over. While the veteran forward is still part of the roster, the team has announced their decision to cut ties with him and word is it could be made official by Monday.
Anthony's descent has been a strange one. The nine-time NBA All-Star has been around for 15 years and, earlier in his career, it was expected that he would have at least one ring by now. Surely, he thought there was a last shot at glory with the Rockets before he joined them.
There were expectations in Oklahoma City when he banded with Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the Thunder too. But we know how that worked out.
Carmelo was part of an impressive 2003 draft class of which he was the third overall pick. There were also names such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, all of whom have gone on to win multiple titles. A certain David West was drafted at No.18 that year; he's a champion too.
Anthony is the only superstar from that class to miss out on a championship so far(second overall pick Darko Milicic fell off rather quickly) and it doesn't seem like that's about to change.
While he is touted to join another NBA team this season, it's unlikely that it's going to be a contender.
There are many GMs out there who feel that the player has something to offer, but the Rockets' Daryl Morey obviously believes otherwise. He only allowed the player 10 games; he might as well have signed him to a 10-day contract.
Anthony averaged a decent 13.4 points in these 10 games, albeit shooting 40.5 percent, but was he really that bad? He only started two games and made his living off the bench the rest of the way; but his presence, even in a reduced role, was seemingly too toxic for the Rockets.
Both Morey and head coach Mike D'Antoni admitted that the forward was willing to do what the team asked of him, yet that wasn't enough and they quickly decided that he wasn't worth keeping around.
But if Anthony is to share any responsibility in the Rockets' decline this season, it's minimal. There are much bigger problems than Carmelo Anthony in Houston right now, plus he wasn't the one who let Trevor Ariza go - a second time at that.
All teams go through rough patches at various points in time. Why the Rockets needed someone to blame is troubling. Sure, Anthony didn't do himself any favors during his time as an active player, but he wasn't that harmful either - unless there's something no one wants to tell us.
The reality of the situation is that Melo was simply a scapegoat. The Rockets knew they weren't signing a superstar, they knew what they were going to get out of him. So to say that the player wasn't "the right fit" shows how poorly things are being run.
How difficult is it for an NBA scout to see that a certain player doesn't fit a team's playing style?
At the end of the day, there's always going to be risk involved when a team signs a player, but to sign a player of Anthony's status and then decide to part ways with him after only 10 games proves incompetence on the Rockets' part.
D'Antonio Complaints about lack of roster depth makes this all the more laughable.
"Obviously, it's a problem," the coach said to reporters this week. "It's something that I know that the front office tried to address. They're going to do the best they can. No blame going around; it's just the way it is.
"We've got rookies playing as the sixth or seventh man. They should be ninth, 10th men. They would be OK every once in a while, but when you rely on them, it's tough. And it's not their fault. They're going to develop. Again, we're just going to have to knock on wood and make sure they stay healthy."
What This Means
The fact that the team hasn't improved since taking Anthony out of the rotation should be enough to prove that he wasn't the problem. The Rockets are below .500 with a 10-11 record after beating the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, and they're sitting at 12th in the Western Conference, hardly any better than they were when he was still playing.
Unfortunately for Anthony, he's become the victim of a team refusing to own up to their real mistakes. Hopefully, he'll find a way to be important to another organization.