Although it’s been a while since he was one of the best scorers – and players – in the Association, Carmelo Anthony might be the highest-upside option left on the market for teams looking to make one more move.
With the 2019 offseason all but over, there aren’t many impact free agents left unsigned. At least not many that can be considered legitimate difference-makers, like Anthony could be if he were to be placed in the right situation.
Anthony played in just 10 games last season, 10 games in which he averaged 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds nightly while shooting only 32.8 percent from three.
However, his fit with the Houston Rockets never looked right, with the roster containing two elite ball-handling playmakers in James Harden and Chris Paul, and head coach Mike D’Antoni never really instilling the confidence in Anthony needed to excel in the role of complementary player.
Some league execs believe Anthony’s NBA days could be over, but there’s always a chance a player of his pedigree could land one more opportunity. If that were to happen, we broke down four places that would make the most sense as Anthony suitors below.
Not only could they use more scoring off the bench, but the Miami Heat were heavily involved in talks with Anthony in the summer of 2018 when it was clear his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder was over, making this potential pairing a logical one.
Miami is coming off a campaign where they missed the playoffs mostly due to their offensive struggles, where they ranked among the five worst teams in the league (according to offensive rating), ahead of just four squads who were clearly tanking the year. So the Heat could use a bucket-getter like Anthony at backup power forward to help shore up their scoring, especially when you consider the way James Johnson, their current backup 4-man, performed in 2018-19, when he was constantly playing injured and even fell out of the rotation late in this year.
Anthony could provide an upgrade over that, and it seems head coach Erik Spoelstra believed so as well last offseason:
“Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has been a strong advocate of signing Anthony, who could play a major role for the Heat at power forward.”
Of course, just like with every other theoretical Anthony landing spot, the success of his marriage is predicated upon the 10-time All-Star accepting a complementary role, likely as a reserve.
But considering his interest joining Miami last year, his close relationship with Dwyane Wade and the stage of his career that he’s in, there’s reason to believe Anthony and the Heat could make things work, and get the best out of each other.
A legitimate contender that could use more outside shooting, the Milwaukee Bucks also make sense as potential Anthony suitors.
Anthony seems especially logical for the Bucks in the role Nikola Mirotic left behind after he headed back to Europe, as a floor-spacing power forward there to help give reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo more room to operate in the paint.
If the FIBA version of Melo were to ever exist in the NBA (and we’re running out of time for it to actually happen), there aren’t many better teams for it to occur on than Milwaukee, who are elite without him, but could take a chance on his skill set to be even better.
As long as Anthony doesn’t take away possessions from Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton to isolate from the midrange and sticks to the script of launching threes playing off of the two All-Stars, he could legitimately help the Bucks.
Another contender built around lead players who struggle shooting the ball, the Philadelphia 76ers could also use Anthony’s services off the bench.
As another option at the backup 4-spot along with Mike Scott, the 2013 scoring champion could help create space for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with his shooting, making life easier for the two young stars in the process.
If all goes well, Anthony could even be seen as a potential late-game option for Philadelphia, since, at the moment, it’s unclear who’s going to be the player on their team to take that all-important last shot. Last season, it was usually Jimmy Butler, but with him departing for Miami this summer, the job is up for the taking.
Anthony obviously isn’t the player he was in his prime, but he showed glimpses last year that he can help a contender in a reduced role. The Sixers can try and channel that in an attempt to improve their questionable depth.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Like Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers have been connected with Anthony in the past due to his relationship with one of their most prominent players, in this case, LeBron James.
Anthony and James go way back, all the way to their high-school days, and that relationship could lead to them finally getting to team up as professionals if the Lakers do decide to take a flyer on ‘Melo.
James isn’t the only Laker open to the possibility, either.
Third-year forward Kyle Kuzma recently talked about working out with Anthony this offseason, and how he wouldn’t mind having the former superstar join the purple-and-gold franchise (via the Los Angeles Times):
“Anthony said he reached out to the Lakers about playing for them next season. “Melo is easily better than half the league right now,” Kuzma said. “There’s no question about it. He should be on a team right now. He’s still one of the best players. The slander people throw at him is something I don’t really understand. Maybe that’s just the way today’s society is right now. It would be great to see him in L.A., but I don’t make those decisions. That’s up to Rob [Pelinka] to make those decisions as far as what he thinks is best for the Lakers. He’s done a great job so far putting this team together.'”
Whether it actually ends up happening remains to be seen, but the one team that has consistently mentioned as an Anthony suitor has been the Lakers, so there’s reason to believe it could happen, if not this summer, perhaps at some point in the regular season.
Anthony’s shooting and scoring ability could help L.A. off the bench, and it would be fun to finally see another pair of Banana Boat team members on the same roster.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.