The Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to move on from Carmelo Anthony this offseason. The Houston Rockets could sign the veteran forward.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Anthony’s business manager spent time with key figures for the Rockets on Sunday. Chris Paul, who re-signed with Houston this offseason, is longtime friends with Anthony.
Paul spoke candidly about his strong relationship with Anthony back in 2011 (via NOLA.com):
“When you talk to guys as much as we do, you start to trust them. Any time you can trust somebody in the same profession you are in, it’s a brotherhood.”
After losing veteran forward Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns earlier this offseason, it’s possible that the Rockets would want to add some depth with Anthony once he becomes available.
But what’s more unclear is if Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni would want to coach the ten-time NBA All-Star. As noted by The Ringer’s Jason Concepcion, the two had a less than favorable relationship during their time together with the New York Knicks.
D’Antoni has stated he quit the Knicks when Anthony told the organization to pick between the two parties back in 2012. They’ve since worked together on Team USA, however, where D’Antoni is an assistant.
The coach has said that he and Anthony are in a much better situation these days (via ESPN):
“We all get a little bit, hopefully, better at what we do. And it’s a whole different situation and we know that James (Harden) and Chris (Paul) are good friends (of Carmelo’s) so it’s a whole different thing. Actually, after New York, we went to USA Basketball and we won a gold medal again so it’s not like it’s anything new.”
His brother, Dan D’Antoni, was an assistant for the Knicks when Anthony was on the team. He recently spoke to the New York Times about a potential reunion on the Rockets, noting that Mike “doesn’t hold grudges” and believes Anthony is a great player.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that many NBA executives believe Houston is the “favorite” to land Anthony this offseason. Oddsmakers tend to agree, with a 48.8 percent implied probability.
It seems that the shared history of Anthony and D’Antoni won’t stand in the way of signing the veteran, who played just one season for the Thunder but did not get past the first round of the postseason.
The bigger concern would be how he fits with the team on the court, not off it. Tim Bontemps wrote about what his role would look like for the Rockets (via Washington Post):
“Anthony would likely come off the bench as a scoring power forward … D’Antoni’s presence was expected to be a roadblock to Anthony’s arrival, but multiple sources said D’Antoni would be fine with Anthony coming to Houston. The phrase time heals all wounds comes to mind.”
Anthony took a career-high total of three-point attempts last season, which is otherwise concerning because that would likely take away touches from the dynamic duo of Paul and Harden.
If the front office is willing to take that risk, expect D’Antoni and Anthony to put the past where they left it.