Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum applauds Carmelo Anthony's willingness to come off the bench

Trail Blazers

When the Portland Trail Blazers reached out to Carmelo Anthony last season, the franchise offered the ten-time NBA All-Star something no other team had, a starting role. 

The Blazers were short-handed in the frontcourt due to injuries and Melo needed a second chance. It was a perfect match.

The move paid off in spades for Portland as Carmelo averaged 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game for the Blazers. He also shot 38.5% from three-point range, the second-highest single-season average of his career. 

Now, Anthony decided to re-pay the Blazers for giving him a chance by re-signing with the franchise on another one-year, veteran minimum deal but this time with the understanding he will not be starting games. 

“Melo understands right now, he’ll probably come off the bench,” President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said. "I think he can be featured more with the second unit."

Unlike the 2019-20 Trail Blazers, this upcoming team has much more depth on the wing with the emergence of Gary Trent Jr., the return of Rodney Hood, the trade for Robert Covington, and signing Derrick Jones Jr. 

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Portland head coach Terry Stotts stated he plans to start Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., and Jusuf Nurkić which would leave Melo in a reserve role. 

 

“I had to swallow that pill. I had to, you know,” he said Friday. “I had to really be honest and then transparently with the team and with the organization. And also with Dame and CJ, you know that we had multiple conversations, leading up to me coming back here. Those conversations were very honest on both sides.

“And it was just something that, I was very comfortable and familiar with this situation. So I would rather do that here and knowing that you know this team and the players still respect me at a different level -- and the coaches and the organization.”

CJ McCollum said Tuesday the manner in which Melo has accepted his reserve role shows, "he's a very, very mature guy."

"I think there's a misconception of who he is and who he stands for as a person," added McCollum. "I think at this stage in his career obviously he's more than capable of being a starter but he's trying to figure out what's best for the team. What's best for us to make a run and I think that shows his maturity and how he's kind of progressed as a player and how he's comfortable with his legacy and what he's been able to accomplish. There's no doubt he's a Hall-of-Famer but I think his willingness to do that just shows that he's extremely mature and is in a different phase of life in terms of his mentality and what he's thinking." 

Anthony, who came off the bench for Houston for eight games before being cut out of the rotation, acknowledges it'll be an adjustment but he will do whatever it takes to help the Trail Blazers win games. 

“If I sit here and say that it wasn't hard… with your pride and your ego, yes especially coming for somebody like myself. But I had to take a deep breath and we'll figure it out, we'll make it work," said Anthony.

Rip City will get its first look at Anthony coming off the bench on Friday, December 11th when the Blazers host Sacramento in the first preseason game of the year at 7:30 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports Northwest.