Should Carmelo Anthony finish his career in Denver?
Carmelo Anthony hasn’t found a place in the NBA yet after a falling out with the Houston Rockets. One possible option for him would be to return to the Denver Nuggets though getting there might be quite difficult particularly on the part of the franchise that Melo used to play for.
Very few players in NBA history get to finish out their careers with the teams that drafted them. Consider the following names whose careers started in one city and ended with their final games in another: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Pete Maravich, Hakeem Olajuwon, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan.
It’s been nearly two months since Anthony and the Rockets decided to go in different directions, playing his last game on Nov. 8. Many believed that the All-Star forward would find his way to a championship contender eventually but that hasn’t happened so far because the Rockets prefer to trade Melo rather than waving him.
Shipping off Anthony is Houston’s preference since it makes more financial sense but that’s only possible if there’s a trade partner waiting in the wings. According to a report from The New York Times’ Mark Stein, the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards aren’t keen on adding to their roster a 16-year veteran whose best years are clearly behind him.
Despite the lack of interest in the 34-year old from other teams, the Nuggets may want to consider acquiring their former franchise player.
Melo’s Start and Current Situation
In the 2003 NBA Draft, Anthony was drafted by the Nuggets with the third overall pick and he was immediately billed as the franchise’s savior. He led the team to a 26-game improvement from being a 17-65 win team and a place in the lottery the previous year to a playoff contender with a 43-39 record during his rookie season. The team only had one good run in the playoffs when they made the Western Conference Finals in the 2008-09 season but Melo’s years in the Mile High City were numbered after repeated failures in the first round.
Eventually, Anthony wore out his welcome in Denver and he was traded to the New York Knicks. His tenure in New York had a similar trend to his time in Denver—loved by the fans in the beginning but was due to be traded to another team in his final season with the team. The Oklahoma City Thunder took him in for a year in 2017-18 and the Rockets couldn’t even stand him for a month.
At this point in the season, acquiring Anthony from the Rockets would only be for sentimental reasons and no other for the Nuggets. It would be a dream for the fans to see this happen. In reality, though, there’s no chance that Denver GM Artūras Karnišovas will pull off a deal that would jeopardize their team’s chemistry by trading for Anthony.
But if we look at it from Anthony’s point of view, it would benefit his career greatly if he could play a part in the Nuggets’ championship run this season.
The Nuggets are one of the surprise teams of the season with a 24-11 record. That’s the best record in the West and third-best overall behind the East’s Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. Denver is rolling with Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic leading the way with an all-around game that’s rarely seen in seven-footers.
The team has no glaring weaknesses at the moment though scoring may be a bit of a concern. They are currently tied with the Rockets for 18th in the league in scoring at 109.9 points per game only. Denver makes up for that with elite defense, holding opponents to 104.7 points a contest which is third-best in the league.
Anthony, a career 24.0 points per game scorer, could potentially help out in the offensive department in a reduced role.
How Denver Can Obtain Anthony
Should the 10-time All-Star get waived, then the Nuggets could sign him without losing any of their major assets. They could easily free up a spot on the roster to accommodate him. It’s very probable that Anthony understands by now that his best chance of landing a spot in a playoff team is if he is willing to play in limited minutes, coming off the bench to relieve some of the younger guys on the Nuggets’ roster.
If his mindset is such that he’s open to be a role player in a lesser capacity than with the Rockets, then he would fit in nicely with the Nuggets especially as a scoring option in the playoffs where he has more experience than most of the players on the team.
For Anthony to be eligible for a roster spot in the postseason, the Rockets will have to buy him out by March 1. If they wait that long to do so, that means he’ll have been out of action for four months by the time the Nuggets pick him up. After appearing in only 10 games this season, the veteran forward will have to keep himself in shape away from the court while he awaits his future.
If he doesn’t traded before the Feb. 7 deadline, then his best bet of playing at all this season is with the Nuggets whose history with him might be his only saving grace. Once there, Melo better savor every moment of it because more than likely, this will be his final destination in an NBA career that has been both stellar and substandard at the same time.
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