Point guard Chris Paul made headlines a few weeks ago when he joined James Harden in Houston to form another super team out West. The nine-time All-Star made six straight trips to the playoffs with the Los Angeles Clippers but they have been unable to get past the second round. At 32, this is Paul’s last team as he takes a shot at an elusive NBA title.
Another superstar that headed for Houston is Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been wasting away in New York. Once the franchise player, Anthony is being traded since he is on the wrong side of his prime (33 years old) and hasn’t come close to the playoffs in the past four years. He has a no-trade clause but is willing to waive it if he is sent to either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Rockets.
Reportedly, the only hurdle is forward Ryan Anderson’s three-year, $61 million contract which the Rockets need to shed to absorb Melo’s two-year, $54 million contract. The problem is no one wants to take on Anderson’s hefty contract. A third team is needed to make it work but so far there are no takers. Any team taking that contract would want more assets or players but Houston traded their young players (e.g. Sam Dekker) to get Chris Paul. I don’t think that the Rockets are willing to part with defensive specialist Trevor Ariza or shooter Eric Gordon. They will need both players to contend with the Western elite.
Despite his age, Anthony remains one of the best offensive players in the NBA. Last year, he averaged 22.4 points per game along with nearly 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He is also versatile enough to play all five positions which make him a good fit anywhere. The knock on Melo is that he does not play any defense despite his athletic abilities.
Already jokes are floating around that if the Rockets bring in Anthony, they may need to play with three balls just so Harden, Paul, and Anthony get enough touches. The three superstars need to touch the ball to be effective. For them to be work together, Paul and Anthony have to give up their alpha dog ways and need to let go of their egos.
Based on his Team USA experience, Anthony may have an easier time playing off the ball. In 2016, Anthony was extremely effective when he was teamed up with other stars such as Kevin Durant and Paul George. He was able to pick his shots and break defenses since he didn’t have to score all the time.
The reason Anthony is pegged as a ball-hog is that he has been playing in a New York team wherein he is usually the first and only option on offense. This forced him to go one-on-one and take many bad shots with the clock running out.
Under Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, Anthony can play the four or five position for a deadly small ball team that will feature Ariza, Gordon, Paul and Harden.