Carmelo Anthony’s last three teams have decided they just no longer wanted him.
Anthony’s exit with the Knicks played out publicly with then-team president Phil Jackson declaring Anthony no longer fit in New York. Anthony’s finishes with the Thunder and Rockets went down more privately.
But appearing on ESPN today, Anthony explained his dismay with how both tenures ended.
Anthony on Oklahoma City:
It wasn’t until after the season that all this talk had started. Would he come back? Would he take a pay cut? Would he come off the bench? None of this stuff was ever discussed with me, as far as me coming off the bench. All I needed was somebody to communicate that with me. And I think people was afraid to stand up and communicate.
I wasn’t willing to accept that, because that never was explained to me. If you sat down with me man-to-man and said, “You know what, look, what’s best for this team is for you to come off the bench,” I probably would have fought it a little bit. But then I would have stepped away away from it and said, “You know what? This is what’s best for the team.” I went to Billy Donovan himself and said, “What do I have to do?” Right? “What do you need from me?” And everybody can vouch for that. “What do you need from me? What do I need to do?” And he told me. And I said, “Look, thank you. I appreciate it. This is what you’re going to get from me.” I really honestly wish the OKC situation would’ve worked out. I thought it was going to work out.
I think it was bigger than basketball. I think it was a tax situation. But I think they knew that for me coming in there. They was trying to get me to kind of revamp my contract. And at that point in time, I just felt like the situation wasn’t handled right. I felt like it was just a one-and-done situation in OKC. And I didn’t respect that. I didn’t want that. Because I went in there to fight.
After his lone season with the Thunder, Anthony said coming off the bench was out of the question. He said he couldn’t be effective in a small role.
It’s easy for him now to say he would’ve gotten over his ego if someone spoke to him face-to-face. But he was so opposed to coming off the bench. He made that very clear. It’s unfair of him to blame the Thunder for not talking him out of something he was proactively emphatic about.
Anthony exercised his $27,928,140 player option with Oklahoma City. That sealed his fate there. He was no longer worth anywhere near that high salary, especially with the Thunder so far into the repeater luxury tax. They traded him to the Hawks.
Atlanta waived him. Anthony joined the Rockets and played just 10 games for them last season.
Anthony on Houston:
I’m doing everything I’ve got to do. I never missed a practice, did all my work. I was real professional with everybody there. I don’t think there’s one person there that could say that I wasn’t a professional there. I did what I had to do, did my work. And then the 10th game come, I just didn’t understand where that had come from. I was reaching out to – I actually reached out to Daryl first and said, “Can we talk about how can we make this better? What can we do to fix? What can I do to fix this?” But then he had in mind that he wanted to come talk to me, too, about releasing me or letting me go. I didn’t like how that went down.
I was actually in San Antonio, in my room, getting ready for the game. And me and Daryl were supposed to speak that night, because I had reached out to him previously about just a heads-up meeting, like, “What’s going on? Let me know what I can do. I’m here to help the team. Let me know what I’ve got to do.” But he came in, and he was just like, “Look, basically your services are no longer needed.” And I’m like, “Hold up. What the hell are you talking about?” He’s like, “Nah, things just not working out, and you’ve got to figure out something to do.” And I’m like, “How the hell am I going to figure out something to do? I’ve got a game tomorrow.” “Nah, you’re not going to suit up tomorrow.” So, then I started taking it even deeper. He told me I wasn’t going to make the rotation. I’m like, “I can’t make a nine-man rotation? That’s what you’re trying to tell me?” I’m already starting to accept the fact that I have to come off the bench, which was very hard for me. I accepted that.
Anthony played poorly in Oklahoma City and even worse in Houston. The Rockets correctly diagnosed him as a problem.
However, it was strange they immediately dropped him from major role to completely off the team. Why not try to see whether he could help as a situational contributor? Anthony has a legitimate gripe there.
That said, he didn’t warrant a rotation spot. If he was going to cause problems sitting on the bench, Houston was correct to exile him. But the way Anthony tells it, he didn’t get much chance to come to terms with that before Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made up his mind.
Anthony also exposes Morey as untruthful. This meeting occurred Nov. 9, according to Anthony. On Nov. 11, Morey said Anthony was sick and would return to the rotation once healthy. Morey essentially called the Anthony-done-with-Houston reports fake news.
Morey also said earlier this summer he wouldn’t trade Chris Paul then traded Paul, anyway. There’s a pattern here.
Morey says whatever he wants publicly to downplay tension, true or not. That might be the right move in the short term for someone trying to help the Rockets. The rest of us should no longer trust him.
As for Anthony, getting fired usually isn’t enjoyable. There was probably no way for the Rockets to drop him and leave him feeling good about it. At least Morey spoke to him face-to-face.
Anthony remains a free agent wanting to get signed. He has clearly become more willing to accept a smaller role. Yet, he still sounds somewhat delusional about his place in the game.
Marginal players get rejected by teams all the time. Most of those players don’t get a national spotlight to complain about how it went down. It’s just the rough part of being, at best, a fringe NBA player.
That’s where Anthony is now.