Carmelo Anthony will one day enter the Hall of Fame because of his time with the Nuggets and Knicks. With those two teams, he established himself as one of the most elite scorers the sport has ever seen.
But since his last game with the Knicks to now, the 37-year-old has dealt with a lot. From an underwhelming year in Oklahoma to a very brief stint in Houston and then being out of the league he helped grow.
Anthony had no options. No team wanted to give him an opportunity, he was being questioned as a player and teammate, and the thought of retiring crept into his mind.
He was in a seemingly dark place until the Blazers came calling to give the 10-time All-Star a chance at reviving his career. An opportunity to try and leave the game on a high note and on his terms and nobody else’s.
In two seasons with the Blazers, his tenure with the team has been as good as it could be. He went from a starter his first season with the team to their sixth man this season and embraced the change. Anthony had no choice but to acquiesce and he willingly embraced it with nothing known of him being upset.
"I had to swallow that pill," Anthony said during the 2020-'21 season. "I had to really be honest and then transparently with the team and with the organization. And also with Dame and CJ [McCollum], 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 [come off the bench] here and knowing that you know this team and the players still respect me at a different level, and the coaches and the organization.
Honesty is what players of Anthony’s stature need. Gone are the days of making the All-Star team and All-NBA. Thriving in a new role has extended Anthony’s career. In two seasons with the Blazers, he’s averaged 14.3 points and has come off the bench in 66 games, a career-high.
“It's a comfort level,” Anthony said. “It's me coming to the table and saying OK, like, ‘Talk to me about what that role would be. If you don't want me to play with the first five, that doesn't mean that I'm not a ‘starter’ right? It’s just that we need to balance. I mean we need that balance.
"You can't bring CJ and Dame off the bench. So you say, I'll do it. I'll make it happen. But honestly, I had to really sit down with myself and like, think about that, because you know I've tried it in Houston and only did it for seven or eight games, but this is new for me.”
Anthony’s value won’t restore to what it once was. He’s now a role player that can be depended on to score. In a league all about scoring, that’ll keep his career alive.
The way he scores the ball hasn’t changed, just the volume.
During the 2020-’21 regular-season, Anthony’s most relied upon shot was the mid-range. He took 327 shots from that location, shooting 44%, his highest since 2016-’17.
For those who’ve followed Anthony know his favorite shot is the fadeaway, and that hasn’t changed. He took 122 of those, shooting 40.2%. In his new role with the team, he’s taken more of those shots than at any point in his career.
His second most favorite shot a season ago was the ‘Above the Break 3,’ as the league’s database calls it, shooting 40.9% from there.
It’s hard to gauge what the future of Anthony is in the league. What’s for certain is he can still play and is more than willing to adjust for the betterment of the team.
He's publicly said he would like to retire a Blazer, meaning he's more than interested in returning. It's just unknown if the feeling is mutual. From a Blazers perspective, Anthony is a cheap scorer off the bench, and every team needs one of those to go with their starters. There really isn't much of a reason why he why he can't be back in Portland for a third season. Unless the team simply wants to use his roster spot on someone else or Anthony gets a better opportunity elsewhere.
The soon-to-be 19-year veteran is in a weird position where he doesn’t have as much power in free agency as he used to, and that’s fine.
He knows his worth and seems interested in winning a title on his terms by at least being a contributor and not an end of bench player, which he’s far from being.