After passing his physical exam, Carmelo Anthony officially joined the Houston Rockets on a one-year, $2.4 million contract on Monday. Anthony will be teaming up with Chris Paul, who is his close pal and co-member of the famous Banana Boat Crew. The 10-time NBA All-Star will also reunite with Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.
Carmelo Anthony and Coach Mike D’Antoni worked together with the New York Knicks for two seasons where they managed to end the team’s six-year playoff drought. Unfortunately, their inability to get past the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs and the rumored dispute with Anthony forced D’Antoni to resign as the Knicks’ head coach.
Despite their bitter relationship in New York, Coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t hold any grudge against Carmelo Anthony. D’Antoni said that the situation in Houston “is totally different.” He believes the veteran small forward will be a “better fit” with the Rockets than he was with the Knicks.
“In New York, when [the Knicks] gave away half the team [to the Nuggets in the 2011 trade for Anthony] and everybody expected us to win a championship, it really wasn’t realistic,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports (h/t ESPN). “It put a lot of pressure on everybody, and it kind of burst the pipes. I think this is totally different. We’ve got a team that is a whole bunch of veterans that really, we’ve got one thing in mind, and that’s to win a championship, and we have the possibility.”
The Rockets became aggressive in pursuing Carmelo Anthony after losing swingmen Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Mute in the recent free agency. Anthony may not be a good defender like Ariza and Mbah a Moute, but he will give the Rockets another reliable scoring option when opposing teams focus their defense on Chris Paul and James Harden. Despite failing to make himself fit playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Anthony still managed to average 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.
However, though Anthony spent his 15 years in the NBA as a starter, Coach Mike D’Antoni is not giving any guarantee that he will be part of the Rockets’ starting lineup next season. D’Antoni revealed that their player’s performance during the training camp and preseason will play a major role regarding their decision on their rotation. D’Antoni said that they will only do things in which they believe could help them win an NBA championship title next season.