PORTLAND -- The Warriors are slated to play their second game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, but the first featuring new Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony, who signed a non-guaranteed deal with Portland last month, has become a key contributor for the Blazers after a year-long absence from the league. But the style of his absence simultaneously has caused surprise and disappointment from the Warriors.
"I just think it's the disrespect that goes around this league for a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Warriors forward Draymond Green told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. "Even if you don't think he can play, which obviously we all know he can, but even if you don't think he can play, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he wants to play basketball, then he should be able to play."
Anthony has averaged 23.9 points, 3.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds for his career, but last played for the Rockets in November 2018 before the two sides "parted ways" after just 10 appearances from the 17-year veteran. Over a 12-month stretch, despite pleas from supporters and Anthony himself, he failed to land a contract with another team.
Most NBA observers point to Anthony's preseason press conference while a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder -- when he laughed off the notion of coming off the bench -- as a primary reason for his exile. However, Green disagreed.
"It just gave people in a position of power the right to use it against him," Green said, using air-quotes while providing the statement. "People who have done less for the game making decisions on people who have done more.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has known Anthony's game for years as an executive, broadcaster and coach, felt similarly to Green.
"He's been a great player in the league for a long time," Kerr said during his media availability Wednesday. "It did surprise me."
Anthony's absence ended on Nov. 19, when the Blazers signed the forward at the behest of team cornerstones Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Over 13 games with the Blazers, Anthony has averaged 16.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while making a solid 42.6 percent of his 3-pointers. Anthony and the Blazers have won six of their last 10 games, as his addition has helped Portland find their way back in contention for a playoff spot.
As a sign of his good play, the Blazers guaranteed his deal earlier this month, which hasn't shocked Kerr and Green.
"He's been playing great and he's brought some energy and life to that team where they've needed it," Green said. "They've been struggling and he's brought life to that team and leadership."
"He's a great offensive player and he's given them a different dimension. It also looks to me that he's given them a boost emotionally," Kerr added. "The players, they enjoy playing with him and his arrival has given them a jolt of energy.