Training camps start in about a week and Carmelo Anthony is still without a team. It’s been previously reported by The Athletic that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with open arms if the Brooklyn Nets signed the 10-time All-Star. SNY reports that “several Brooklyn players remain fully in favor” of the team signing Anthony. The questions remains, however, if he’s a good fit for the team.
Recency bias shows that the last two stops in Anthony’s career — the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets — are enough to say he’s no longer a valuable piece for an NBA team. He lasted only 10 games in Houston before the sides decided to part ways, with general manager Daryl Morey attributing it to the role the Rockets envisioned for Anthony never materializing. Still, Anthony averaged 13.4 points a game, a career low for him but still production that many NBA benches around the league could use.
However, Anthony’s production has never been the problem. In Oklahoma City he scoffed at the idea to accept a role coming off the bench, saying “I’m not sacrificing no bench role,” after the Thunder lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs in 2018. He later backtracked on it during an appearance on First Take in August.
There’s no question that Anthony can still score, but playing within a system where he isn’t the star player is something he hasn’t adjusted well to since leaving New York. For Brooklyn, a team that expedited its timeline tremendously after signing Irving and Durant and trading D’Angelo Russell to Golden State, the situation would be different than OKC or Houston. The Nets are in win-now mode just like the Thunder and Rockets were when Anthony joined them, though it doesn’t need to happen this year.
With Durant rehabbing from a torn Achilles, the Nets won’t be at full strength until the 2020-21 season, so if the Nets do want to take a chance on Anthony, now would be the perfect time before championship expectations get laid on this team for as long as Irving and Durant are there.
From purely a basketball perspective Anthony is better offensively than most — if not all — the bench players currently on Brooklyn’s team. His defense is still lackluster, but if he’s being used in a limited role Brooklyn could hide him on the defensive end of the floor so he’s not tasked with guarding the opposing team’s top players.
The only issue with all of that is Brooklyn doesn’t have an open roster spot to offer Anthony even if it did want to sign him. As SNY’s Ian Begley reported, with Wilson Chandler on the suspended list for the first 25 games after violating the league’s PED policy, the Nets can move Chandler to the inactive list after the first five games of his suspension. This would open a roster spot for Anthony if Brooklyn wanted to add him.
This all hinges on Anthony’s willingness to truly accept a lesser role on any team. While he’s said that he would accept coming off the bench, that’s easier said than done. This Brooklyn team has been built from the ground up with the players’ average number of years in the league being four. If Anthony can’t accept getting fewer touches and minutes than guys like Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie then maneuvering to make room for him on this team wouldn’t be worth the trouble.