More than one year after he had played his last NBA game, it was reported last week that Carmelo Anthony would be joining the Portland Trail Blazers as a free agent. At 35-years-old, "Melo" is now far removed from his peak as one of the leading scoring threats in the entire league, though as a new report explained, the Blazers had a few good reasons to sign the veteran forward to a non-guaranteed contract.
In a report published on Sunday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski discussed how "circumstances had changed" when the Trail Blazers made their offer to Anthony late last week, given how general manager Neil Olshey had repeatedly failed to acquire the 10-time All-Star in the past. Citing sources familiar with the discussions, Wojnarowski quoted Olshey telling Anthony that he needs the Blazers as much as the team needs him, ultimately giving him a chance to play in the NBA once again while potentially revitalizing a team currently struggling with "injury and inconsistency."
Regarding the reasons why Portland turned to Anthony — and not a G League mainstay or a journeyman-caliber player — to shake things up, Wojnarowski wrote that the Blazers were specifically looking for someone who could boost the locker room's flagging spirits and earn the respect of their two backcourt stars, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It was also noted that there were good things being said about Anthony's preseason workouts.
"Olshey and coach Terry Stotts had heard McCollum say throughout the summer that Anthony's New York workouts were convincing, that Anthony could still be useful to a franchise. Yes, circumstances changed for Portland, too. Like the rest of the NBA, the Blazers wouldn't sign Anthony to sit on the end of the bench."As further explained by Wojnarowski, the Trail Blazers' frontcourt has especially been affected by the injury bug, with power forward Zach Collins likely out until March and center Jusuf Nurkic still recovering from a leg fracture. He added that Portland has had trouble hanging on to leads late in the game, due to how defenses bear down on Lillard and McCollum in the fourth quarter, leaving them with few options to pass to. That could be where Anthony comes in, especially since his playing style fits in with the Blazers' isolation-heavy offense.
"The Trail Blazers need a threat on the floor, a player with poise who can get to the free throw line late in games," Wojnarowski added, explaining that no one should expect Anthony to return to his past All-Star-caliber level of play at this point in his 17-year NBA career.
Currently 11th place in the Western Conference with a 5-8 record, the Blazers are expected to debut Anthony as soon as Tuesday's road game against the New Orleans Pelicans.