‘Melo: Yesterday’s News or Tomorrow’s Redemption Story?

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Today, ex-National Basketball Association player and former first-round pick, Royce White spoke with media declaring Carmelo Anthony was being “blackballed” by the league. He also accused Anthony’s friend, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James of leaving the disgraced superstar hanging by failing to get him a job playing for the Lakers this coming season.

Anthony isn’t willing to accept a reduced role, leaving him unemployed

White’s hard stance and support for Carmelo leaves me pondering one simple question …why is LeBron responsible for throwing the ex-superstar a lifeline, and what has Anthony done to help himself become desirable and contribute to an NBA franchise?

There is no doubt in my mind, that at 35 years old Anthony still has some fuel left in the tank. Even if that tank is bone dry, he is capable of knocking down some shots for a contending team like the Lakers or Clippers. With career per game averages of 24 points in 35.8 minutes played, it is unquestionable that he can put the ball in the basket.

In a perfect world, ‘Melo’s decline with age would be supplemented by a reduced role coming off the bench as a role player for a playoff team. Sounds great right? 

Therein lies the problem. The 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA forward’s ego will not allow him the opportunity to be desirable and get back on the court. We’ve already seen this episode before. 

The past two seasons, both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets attempted to make things work with Anthony, seeing him coming of their bench as either a sixth-man or role player. The results were an epic failure because he refused to accept his role as a contributor playing on a league-minimum salary. The final result led to him being cut just ten games into the 18’ season by the Rockets.

Where does this leave him? On the open market with no offers in hand, wishing he was still playing and probably regretting his decisions.

The NBA has changed into a game of spacing, where ball dominant players control the offense from various positions. Most teams are filled with off-the-ball shooters to compliment these superstars. By choice, he has struggled making the adjustment.

Anthony struggles in catch-and-shoot roles

Anthony feels the need to have the ball in his hands and jack up twenty shots each night, while hoping to reach his desired production. The problem with that strategy is his efficiency as a shooter. His game has seen great decline the past few years and analytics suggest he has fallen behind most players, and his performance is below “league average”.

‘Melo is unquestionably a future first-round-Hall-of-Fame inductee. He maintains that he has re-discovered a passion for the game. Can he get his head straight and re-discover himself in a reduced role? It would be better to go out on his own terms and fade off into the sunset as a team player, instead of creating stigma that he is being forced out of the league. 

Somebody tell this man to let go of his past celebrity, work on his jump shot and “D” while contributing to a contender so he can be remembered as a “winner” instead of being the Charles Barkley, or Patrick Ewing of his generation.

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