Carmelo Anthony is back. After months of chat-show discussion, workout videos and lingering in the NBA wilderness, Anthony has returned to the league. The team is the Portland Trail Blazers, the teammates at Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
It’s not the first news of Anthony and the Blazers after McCollum tried to recruit the future Hall of Famer a couple of offseasons ago. That time he ended up in Oklahoma City. The next summer, Anthony was on the move again. Portland were linked again. It resulted in a turbulent stint with the Houston Rockets.
Portland are currently 4-8 despite Lillard ranking second in points per game and minutes. Injuries to Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic have depleted the Blazers drastically – offseason acquisitions Mario Hezonja and Kent Bazemore are not providing a great deal offensively. McCollum is off to a poor start by his lofty standards.
Help was needed, and it was needed quickly. Although seen as a team likely to make a big trade before the season, Portland’s hands are tied in that regard. Players they were expected to deal are now playing considerable minutes. With such limited depth, giving away two or three players to bring in one wasn’t the answer.
Anthony has cropped up whenever a team has started to look thin. With Portland so desperately short of forwards, the former Nugget is an ideal fit. The defence is an issue, of course, but it’s something Portland will have to work their way around. This team needed an addition, and there was no better option than Anthony, who has remained a solid offensive player into the twilight of his NBA career.
The Blazers are at risk of slipping out of contention in the West. A gap is already opening up between themselves and the eight seed with Dallas, Phoenix and Minnesota looking like playoff teams early on. Whether Anthony helps bridge that chasm remains to be seen; one thing is for sure, the 10-time All-Star will attract plenty of attention over the coming weeks.
With Collins out until spring, and no set timetable for Nurkic, a move was a necessity. Anthony wanted to get back in the league. For imperfect circumstances, this is a perfect fit.