When Carmelo Anthony signed for the Houston Rockets in August 2018, teaming up with James Harden and Chris Paul, it was seen as a move to thrust the Rockets into Championship contention with the creation of another ‘big three’.
Ten games later, Melo is dashed from the roster, never to be seen in a Rockets uniform on court again. But why and where has it all gone so wrong for the man who sits 19th for most points in NBA history?
Failure to bring a ring to NYC
After a huge trade from Denver Nuggets to New York Knicks in 2011, expectations were heaped on Anthony to bring his Nuggets form to the Concrete Jungle and help to create a team that was able to compete for a ring.
Seven years later with only three playoffs appearances, his time in the Big Apple was drawing to a close. Dolan was looking to free Carmelo’s huge salary in order to build around new star Kristaps Porzingis.
The closest Melo got to achieving his dream of bringing a championship to New York was in the 2013 season. The Knicks won the Atlantic division title and reached the conference semi-finals of the playoffs, before losing out in six games to Indiana Pacers.
Carmelo played a vital role in shaping that team. He helped owner James Dolan and head-coach Mike Woodson pick players that would fit the style of the team and add depth to the roster, whilst also becoming the NBA scoring champion that season averaging 28.7 points a game.
Blockbuster trades to Oklahoma City and Houston
An amicable divorce from the City of New York followed after an unwelcome period of failure, with both Carmelo and the Knicks looking to achieve different goals. The first trade offered the best for both parties.
Melo would get another chance to play in a team capable of fighting for an NBA championship alongside reigning MVP and scoring champ Russell Westbrook and fellow new signing Paul George, creating another ‘big three.’ The Knicks acquired Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, offering them a chance to continue their rebuilding and restructuring process.
The 2017 trade didn’t work out as expected for Melo and Oklahoma City Thunder, with the franchise reaching only the first round of the playoffs, being beaten by Utah Jazz.
Another off-season, another transfer, this time to Houston Rockets last year. The worst start to a season of his career, Melo sunk to a career low average of 13.4 points per game through 10 games, despite only starting twice.
For the 10x All-Star, the two moves have severely damaged the reputation of one of the best shooters the league has seen, with the fans and media seemingly forgetting about his previous 15 seasons, only remembering his struggles.
One last dance?
Carmelo last featured for the Rockets on game day 10, a match-up with his former side the Thunder. On his final showing, he could only put up two points in 20 minutes, a stat which saw his time on the Rockets roster come to a premature end.
Since his final appearance on 9th November 2018, he’s had his hopes of an NBA comeback written off by almost everyone, but is there one final chance?
Rockets are willing to trade him if they get something in return, and a trade pushing Melo to Chicago Bulls is most likely. Once Carmelo touches down in Chi-Town, he’s never likely to play for the Bulls, with the franchise rumoured to be looking to waive Melo to allow him to find a team he’d get minutes in.
A number of teams are rumoured to hold an interest in Melo, but no one is likely to waive a player to add him to the roster.
Los Angeles Lakers remain the favourites, with other championship contenders Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors also rumoured to hold an interest.
Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets fit Melo’s game style but hold no firm interest, although if Anthony becomes available, they could be tempted to make a move.
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