After suffering a disappointing season, the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to part ways with Carmelo Anthony, sending him to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade. The 34-year-old small forward is not expected to stay long in Atlanta as the Hawks are reportedly planning to release him after the trade becomes official. Marc Stein of New York Times recently reported that Anthony is planning to join Chris Paul and James Harden in the Houston Rockets upon clearing waivers with the Hawks.
Acquiring Carmelo Anthony on a one-year veteran minimum deal gives the Rockets something to celebrate in the 2018 NBA offseason. The 10-time NBA All-Star would be a great addition to the Rockets, especially now that Trevor Ariza is playing for the Phoenix Suns and Luc Mbah a Moute joined the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. However, according to SportsLine (h/t CBS Sports), signing Anthony is projected to decrease Houston’s chances of winning the NBA championship title next season from 4.8 percent to 3.9 percent.
“It is less clear how Anthony helps the Rockets in the big picture. The best thing he brings is the ability to punish switching defenses in the playoffs — opponents will not want to put a small guard on him in the post. Houston was already a top-notch offense, though, and giving him the ball in situations where Chris Paul, James Harden or Eric Gordon would have otherwise had it isn’t necessarily going to make it more efficient. If Anthony was a good defender, however, I wouldn’t be all that worried about the fit,” James Herbert of CBS Sports wrote.
Carmelo Anthony is undeniably a better player than Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute on the offensive end of the floor. However, the main reason why the two wingmen became very useful for the Rockets last season was because of their impressive performance on the defensive end of the floor. With the presence of Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets no longer need another ball-dominant player which will force Anthony to play off the ball.
His first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder showed that Anthony isn’t comfortable playing alongside two other superstars. Being the Thunder’s third scoring option, the veteran small forward had a huge drop on his statistics, averaging 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. However, the Rockets are not the Thunder, and the only thing Anthony can do right now is to continue improving his game to prove his doubters wrong next season.