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Trail Blazers: Carmelo Anthony probably won’t start

Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony

Orlando, FL - AUGUST 24: Carmelo Anthony #00 of the Portland Trail Blazers gets ready before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers during Round One Game Four of the NBA Playoffs on August 24, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Trail Blazers’ other options at forward when they signed Carmelo Anthony last year: Rodney Hood,* Kent Bazemore, Nassir Little, Skal Labissiere, Mario Hezonja,* Gary Trent (pre-breakout).

The Trail Blazers other options at forward now: Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Gary Trent Jr. (post-breakout), Rodney Hood, Nassir Little.

*This overstates Portland’s forward depth. Hood was needed more at guard with Damian Lillard injured, and Mario Hezonja was playing small-ball center with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach COllins injured.

Anthony started all 64 of his games (including play-in and playoff) for the Trail Blazers last season. Re-signing, how will Anthony fit into Portland’s rotation next season?

Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey, via Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest:

“Melo understands right now,” Olshey said. “He’ll probably come off the bench. I think he can be featured more with the second unit. Depending who starts at three, we assume it’s Cov and Derrick, there may not be as many shots there for him. So being able to feature him with the second group, getting him some post ups, have him be more of a target for plays with that second group, probably gives him a higher usage.”

Anthony has expressed how important starting is to him. He has said he couldn’t be effective in a small role. Though he came off the bench for the Rockets, they reportedly felt pressured not to pull him from the rotation (so instead, exiled him).

Houston didn’t necessarily treat Anthony fairly. He deserved an opportunity to show how he’d handle a lesser role.

Ideally, Anthony and the Trail Blazers are on the same page. At age 36, he just can’t take over games like he used to. Off the bench, Anthony would have more opportunities to control the ball.

But the way Portland staggers Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Anthony will rarely be the focal point. Anthony must improve his complementary skills.

He’s capable. In better shape, he proved that last season. Anthony no longer looked washed up. So much of this is about his mentality.

Anthony has made such a big deal about starting, there’s extra attention on how this will go.