While he hasn't officially signed with Houston yet, the expectation is that Carmelo Anthony will become a Houston Rockets player and join James Harden and Chris Paul in an attempt to keep Houston on pace with the rest of the NBA's Western Conference.
A one-year deal worth a reported $2.4 million will place Carmelo officially on the roster but also stir up a number of questions. Will this deal be good for both Anthony and Houston? How will he fit? What role will he play and will it work? These are just a few of the more pressing issues.
It's impossible to know the future, but if one looks at this deal from a number of logical perspectives, it's not too difficult to predict what's coming for both the organization and the player.
Is This The Right Move For Carmelo?
If you consider the Oklahoma City Thunder did not want Anthony for another season and Atlanta was willing to take a financial hit and buy him out, then really, for Carmelo it comes down to finding a team that wanted him. Listening to James Harden and Chris Paul, it appears the Houston Rockets do.
This deal isn't about money for Carmelo. He will make his full $27.9 million salary regardless. This is about finding a fit and proving he can still produce at a high level. Anthony has two things on his mind. First, play well enough to earn another good contract. Second, win a championship — he's yet to do so.
For Anthony, this is absolutely the best fit.
Is This Good For Houston?
By viewing this deal from the perspective Houston did the most out of what little salary was left to roster a competitive team, then this deal could turn out to be excellent. If asking the question, is Anthony better than Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute? The tradeoff isn't a win.
After the Rockets dished out $160 million to Chris Paul and $90 million to center Clint Capela — understandable priorities — there wasn't much choice but to land the best possible player for the least amount of money. Carmelo may fit that bill.
In the end, the team lost more combined offense and overall strong defense. Anthony is not going to address the defensive concerns. He might help replace some of the lost offense.
Where Exactly Does Carmelo Fit?
Anthony needs to prove he's what he says he is. Adamant that he is no role player or star who should come off the bench, he's coming off the worst NBA season of his career and there's a very good chance he's his own biggest fan.
That Anthony is joining the Rockets off a career low in points, assists, and host of other stats, he can't solely blame OKC, which he's tried to do suggesting his role was counterproductive to his game.
Melo asked about possibly coming off the bench: "I'm not sacrificing no bench role. So that's out of the question."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 28, 2018
There is good news, however. The Houston Rockets like to shoot 3-pointers and Anthony likes to take them. He averaged over six 3-point attempts per game and 2.2 makes. Those numbers are pretty good on a team that will ask him to shoot the long bomb.
The question remains, can Carmelo get used to the idea that Harden and Paul will also shoot threes, play an isolation game and pump the ball out to him without him starting with it? He will have to change his game to fit the Rockets system. There's no question about that.
That said, Houston needs to find a way to work Anthony into their offensive system. If what Carmelo said to close out last season was true, that he wasn't part of the offensive strategy, being overlooked is what bothered him most. Anthony said. “It wasn’t no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player.”
Is Mike D’Antoni and Carmelo's Relationship Really A Problem?
Despite Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni saying things will be fine, it's hard to ignore the history between these two. They were in New York together with the Knicks and D’Antoni tried to work with Carmelo, mostly unsuccessfully.
D’Antoni told ESPN that when he found out Anthony poised an ultimatum to the Knicks that either he goes or the coach does, D'Antoni made it easy for them by just walking in a quitting. When last asked for comment on Anthony joining Houston, D'Antoni said it would be "fine." That doesn't exactly sound like a glowing endorsement.
What gives first here? Carmelo will accept a bench role or D'Antoni won't have to ask because Melo will realize he's not a starter?
Will The Rockets Be Better Than Last Season?
In a word, no. It's hard to replace what left the team with what's coming in and suggest they are improved. Still, there is a chance they'll be really good and if Carmelo meshes and performs the way he thinks he can, they could be great.
Will it match the best regular-season record in the NBA and nearly beating the Warriors in the postseason like they did last season? That seems unlikely.