Trail Blazers fans are now saying:
“Stay Melo. Please stay, Melo!”
As the Trail Blazers wrapped up play in the Orlando Bubble following Saturday night’s 131-122 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, the question on everyone’s mind is --
Will Carmelo Anthony still be a Trail Blazer next season?
If you ask Melo, he sure hopes so.
When he was asked what type of things he will value when thinking about where he will play next year, Melo said he “pray” that he will be with the Trail Blazers.
I pray that it can be Portland. Honestly, I think that I found a home in Portland. I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me. At this point in my career, I do think that's the best fit for me... I really hope it can be Portland at the end of the day. -- Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony
Damian Lillard seconded that thought from Melo from his home in Portland.
Following a dislocated shoulder to starting power forward Zach Collins in the third game of the season, the Trail Blazers first gave Melo a non-guaranteed contract for the rest of the 2019-2020 season.
After only a few weeks in a Trail Blazers uniform, the ten-time NBA All-Star earned a Western Conference Player of the Week honor and Portland guaranteed his contract.
Anthony was initially asked after Saturday’s Game 5 loss if he even expects to play next season.
The 17-year veteran was quick to answer – “you don’t have to ask that question. That’s not even something that I’m considering not doing. I’ll be right back in the fray of things whenever that next season is coming.”
It’s been a remarkable journey in Portland for the future Hall of Famer.
There’s no doubt about that.
In 58 regular season games with the Blazers, Melo averaged 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds.
But his veteran leadership, timely buckets and stops along with his ‘vintage Melo’ play in the bubble has had many in the NBA world stop and think about what this season has meant for the Blazers and for Melo.
Anthony himself has been able to stop and reflect too.
I’ve been able to have another opportunity at this game. Portland – you want to say revive as the word – allowing me to come in and just be myself and be who I am and do what I do best. So I will always be appreciative of that. -- Carmelo Anthony
The 36-year old has said that very thing in one way or another many times over the season on how he feels as if the Blazers have revived his career.
Postgame, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts shared his feelings on how he has cherished the opportunity to coach Melo.
“The fact that Melo came and played for the Blazers was special,” Stotts said. “What he meant to the team and the way he conducted himself, the way he played. Obviously in the bubble he made some big shots and got us into the playoffs. So I feel honored to have been able to coach him.”
And as CJ McCollum said postgame, “If it was up to me, I'd love to play with him for the rest of his career. I guess that's to be determined."
The news of where Melo ends up next season -- will be one of the biggest offseason storylines for the 2020-21 Portland Trail Blazers squad.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: