Given his unhappiness with the idea that he might have to come off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the expectation that he’d be joining a Houston Rockets team that had just lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, Carmelo Anthony has been seen by many as a surefire starter at small forward for the Houston Rockets. However, it appears that the Rockets might have plans to use the 34-year-old, 10-time NBA All-Star as a reserve, now that he’s just signed with the team.
In a new report, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Anthony was in Houston on Monday to complete his physical exam and officially sign a one-year, $2.4 million contract with the Rockets. The signing was later confirmed in a tweet from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who added that it will be “easy to find highlights” for the veteran small forward.
Although many have predicted that Carmelo Anthony would step up immediately for the Houston Rockets, who recently allowed small forward Trevor Ariza and his backup, Luc Mbah a Moute, to join other teams via free agency, Wojnarowski stressed that this is far from a certainty. Instead, Anthony might have to compete for a starting role in training camp, and could “ultimately come off the bench” for the Rockets, depending on what head coach Mike D’Antoni feels would be most beneficial for the team.
Wojnarowski’s comments about the possibility Carmelo Anthony would have to play a reserve role for the Houston Rockets came shortly after he posted something similar and hinted that the Rockets are “expected” to bring Anthony off the bench, according to NESN. Led by superstar guards James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets won a league-best 65 games in the 2017-18 NBA regular season but lost a hard-fought seven-game series against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
While Anthony’s role on the Houston Rockets remains unconfirmed as the offseason pushes forward, the Washington Post noted that the 15-year NBA veteran has often chafed at the idea of coming off the bench. However, he suggested in a recent interview with The Undefeated that he’s now more comfortable with the possibility of being part of a team’s second unit, saying that he’ll come off the bench when he feels like he’s “ready to take that role.”
Since joining the NBA in 2003 as the third pick in that year’s rookie draft, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 24.1 points per game, including a career-high average of 28.9 points in 2006-07 with the Denver Nuggets, according to his Basketball-Reference player page. As the third offensive option on last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder lineup, Anthony was held down to a career-low 16.2 points per game as he deferred to Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George.