SAN ANTONIO – It’s hoodie season in Portland.
Hoodie Melo season, to be exact.
But as the Trail Blazers embark on a six-game road trip starting with San Antonio on Saturday, Anthony is not with the team.
The 16-year-veteran is reportedly not expected to be available until Tuesday night in New Orleans.
After the Blazers wrapped up practice at the Spurs practice facility Friday night, players gave their initial thoughts and showed their excitement about bringing in a future Hall of Famer.
“I’m all for it,” Damian Lillard said. “We’ve had a lot of guys hurt. I think he can do something to help us with his size, his ability to space the floor, his ability to shoot, another option to throw somebody the ball that can score in isolation situations, good rebounder, and just the experience. He’s a good player, regardless of what the last few years, you know, in Houston and OKC looked like. I didn’t think either one was a great fit.”
Through 10 games last season, Anthony averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 apg with the Rockets.
“I think he can do things to help our team… So, hopefully, it can bring some excitement and help us getting going in the right direction,” Lillard said.
Both Lillard and CJ McCollum spoke with Anthony on Thursday night.
“He seemed excited,” Lillard said. “Obviously, with the situation he has been in, being in and out of the league, and not going out the way he wanted to go out, and the fact that he can still play, I think he was just excited for whatever opportunity presented itself.”
“He’s coming here to help our team,” Lillard added.
Smiling as he said “Free Melo,” which seemed to be very fitting coming from McCollum.
McCollum and Lillard had publicly tried to recruit Anthony numerous times over the years.
Now the stars have aligned for Melo and the Blazers.
“It took some time, but glad it finally worked out,” McCollum said.
“I’m excited. I’m happy for him,” McCollum continued. “I know how hard he worked to get back to the league, and it’s a shame it took this long for him to get back, but I’m looking forward to it… Most importantly, he can help improve our team.”
The 10-time All-Star hasn’t suited up in more than a year.
Thus, there are question marks surrounding how much Anthony has left in the tank and what kind of shape he is in at the moment.
To those questions, Lillard offers this message:
“A professional and future Hall of Fame guy like him, who I think it’s been obvious that he planned on still being in the NBA, you know he wasn’t at home on the couch waiting for a job. You know he was preparing himself so when an opportunity came, he could come in and show it. I’m expecting for him to come in ready.”
Rodney Hood, who said his back is continuing to feel better after dealing with back spasms all week, also had plenty to say about his eventual new teammate.
“I think it’s a great pick up for us. I think it can really help from many different angles, from an experience standpoint, from a scoring standpoint. I know he’s excited to get another chance and we’re excited to have him,” Hood said.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Trail Blazers will pay just under $15,000 per day that Anthony is with the team. The contract will only become fully guaranteed if he makes it past January 7th.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wouldn’t comment on the Anthony news because nothing has become official yet.
But for McCollum, he’s ready to get Melo in the mix and start moving forward.
“We made the playoffs six straight years,” McCollum said. “That’s what we’re playing for. We’re playing to get back into that race. Obviously, it's early in the season, but we’ve struggled and now we’re trying to turn the page and kind of move forward.”