How Carmelo Anthony could help or hurt the Houston Rockets next season

Jay Asser 21:57 23/07/2018
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Carmelo Anthony will join James Harden on the Rockets.

The Houston Rockets will add a former All-Star in Carmelo Anthony to their core, but it’s yet to be seen how much he’ll improve their title hopes.

Anthony still has to wait for his pending trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks to be officially completed, and must clear waivers after being released by Atlanta, but he then plans to sign with Houston, according to the New York Times.

He’s reportedly expected to receive a one-year deal for the veteran minimum of $2.4 million. Because the Hawks will waive Anthony, he’ll still receive the $27.9m on the final year of his contract, allowing him to join Houston on a cheap deal.

Anthony has been linked with the Rockets for much of the summer and James Harden revealed his excitement at the thought of the 10-time All-Star joining him and Chris Paul.

“It would be a great acquisition for us,” Harden told the Houston Chronicle at a community appearance on Friday. “Melo’s a proven vet. He just wants to win at this point, so it would be great for him to be on our team. The current roster we have now, we’ve got good guys back and we keep making forward progress.”

While Anthony is certainly a big name, it’s unclear if he can still make an impact befitting his reputation.

How it could go right

Anthony is no longer the kind of star who can carry a team’s offence, but as the third option playing off other creators, he can still be effective.

His offensive talent can’t be questioned, even now at the age of 34. Dumping the ball into Anthony in the high to mid-post and leaning on him to score in isolation is no longer a viable primary attack, but as a change-of-pace option, especially with second units, it can yield buckets.

Considering how much defences have to switch to contain the Rockets’ offence, Anthony should find himself in favourable mismatches quite a bit, whether that gives him a size advantage in the post or a quickness advantage on the perimeter.

At the very least, Anthony should be useful as a spot-up shooter on the receiving end of passes from Harden and Paul. He knocked down a career-high 169 3-pointers last season with Oklahoma City and while his efficiency wasn’t great at 35.7 per cent, he’ll likely get more wide open looks in Houston’s attack.

With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute leaving the Rockets in free agency, they needed a wing who could play small-ball four. In Anthony, they’ve undoubtedly upgraded offensively on both players.

How it could go wrong

The downside with Anthony has little to do with him as a player and more to do with how he views himself at this point in his career.

Despite all the evidence that suggests he’s well past his prime, Anthony still considers himself to be a star and as such, may not be accepting of a reduced role. That was the case last season anyways when he laughed off the notion of coming off the bench for the Thunder.

If he was willing to be a sixth man, Anthony could be a dangerous weapon off the bench against second units. But the more time he spends on the floor, the more he’ll have to go up against the opposing team’s starters and as a result, the more his weaknesses will be exposed.

On the defensive end, he’s simply a zero. Teams chose to hunt mismatches against Anthony last season and he struggled to be anything more than a revolving door. That will be a major concern for a Rockets team that relied heavily on its ability to switch one through five, especially against the Golden State Warriors.

And if coach Mike D’Antoni keeps him on the bench during critical moments, Anthony’s attitude may become a problem.

The entire situation likely hinges on Anthony’s willingness to do what’s best for the team – something that may finally be a priority for him so late into his career.

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