It took greater than a month, however Carmelo Anthony lastly joined the Houston Rockets on Monday, signing the one-year, $2.four million contract he verbally agreed to final week. We’ve lengthy identified the 10-time All-Star can be headed to Houston simply as quickly as he made his approach out of Oklahoma Metropolis and bid an emotional adieu to Atlanta; how productive a partnership it’ll be, although, figures to rely largely on how keen Anthony is to simply accept a complementary position alongside reigning NBA MVP James Harden and star level guard Chris Paul, and whether or not he’s in a position to produce extra successfully in that framework for the Rockets than he did throughout his lone 12 months with the Thunder.

One potential decision to the possibly sticky problem of how greatest to combine ‘Melo: bringing him off the bench to permit him to behave because the shot-creating, high-usage point of interest of Houston’s second unit. Anthony flatly rejected that notion in Oklahoma Metropolis final 12 months, however a narrative by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Monday morning steered Anthony is likely to be singing a special tune in Texas:

After an replace simply after midday Jap time, although, that passage reads fairly a bit in a different way …

Anthony could have an opportunity to compete for a beginning spot in coaching camp, however might finally come off the bench based mostly on no matter Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni decides is greatest for the crew.

… which means that how issues are anticipated to shake out may not be fairly so settled.

That sounds about proper, as a result of the chance that ‘Melo can be on-board with the transfer represents a verrrrry vital departure from his well-documented earlier emotions on the matter.

Carmelo Anthony has been very clear about not wanting to come back off the bench

After becoming a member of the Thunder in late September, simply earlier than the beginning of coaching camp, Anthony instantly dismissed the concept that Oklahoma Metropolis — a squad whose beginning lineup already featured a premier creator in former MVP Russell Westbrook and a dynamite No. 2 choice in All-Star swingman Paul George — may profit most from having him work off the bench:

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Two months later, after Oklahoma Metropolis had struggled to an 8-12 begin to the season, Anthony as soon as once more disregarded the notion {that a} change to the beginning lineup is likely to be the treatment for what ailed the Thunder:

“No, no,” Anthony mentioned. “Hell no. No, no, by no means.” […]

“We’re high-quality, man,” [Anthony] mentioned. “Like I mentioned, it’s on us to determine how we’re going to be constant. I believe that’s our largest downfall proper now, we’re not a constant crew. As soon as we get that consistency and the way in which that we need to play and proceed on that degree of play all through the course of the sport, we’ll see that turnaround.”

Oklahoma Metropolis did enhance over the course of the season, winding up with a 48-34 document that was good for the No. four seed within the Western Convention. The Thunder did carry out higher with Anthony on the ground than off it, and the beginning lineup did end up simply high-quality: the fivesome of Anthony, Westbrook, George, Adams and Andre Roberson blitzed opponents by 14.1 factors per 100 possessions, the eighth-best web ranking in the entire league amongst teams that logged 200 minutes.

Even after his worst season, ‘Melo nonetheless sees himself as greater than a task participant

However adjustment doesn’t essentially imply acceptance, and after an awkward-if-intermittently-successful season ran aground in opposition to the Utah Jazz within the opening spherical of the 2018 playoffs — a collection through which Anthony struggled mightily on each ends of the ground — ‘Melo made it clear that he envisioned a special, and bigger, position in his second season in Oklahoma Metropolis:

“I’m not sacrificing (by taking part in) no bench position,” Anthony mentioned of subsequent season. “That’s out the query.” […]

“I don’t suppose I may be efficient as [a complementary] kind of participant,” Anthony mentioned. “I believe I used to be keen to simply accept that problem in that position, however I believe I convey somewhat bit extra to the sport so far as being extra educated and what I nonetheless can do as a basketball participant.” […]

“I believe everyone is aware of that I’ve sacrificed sort of rattling close to all the things — household, shifting right here on my own, sacrificed my recreation for the sake of the crew, and was keen to sacrifice something and all the things to ensure that this case to work out,” Anthony mentioned. “So it’s one thing I actually have to consider, if I actually need to be this sort of participant, end out my profession as this sort of participant, realizing that I’ve a lot left within the tank and I convey a lot to the sport of basketball.”

After Anthony and the Thunder acknowledged they’d by no means discovered the correct match after which agreed to separate up, paving the way in which for him to affix the Rockets, he reiterated to ESPN’s Jemele Hill that, even at age 34, he nonetheless doesn’t really feel like he’s reached the purpose the place he shouldn’t be included in his crew’s first 5:

“I understand how to play this recreation of basketball,” he mentioned. “I’ve been taking part in it for a very long time. After I really feel like I’m able to take [a bench] position, then I’ll take that position. Solely I do know when it’s greatest for me to take that position. I’m not going to try this in a scenario the place I nonetheless know my capabilities and what I can do. And on the finish of the day, the individuals who actually matter know my capabilities and what I can nonetheless do.”

Will ‘Melo transfer to the bench if that’s what’s greatest for the Rockets?

It’s not arduous to grasp Anthony’s reluctance to simply accept a bench position. In 15 NBA seasons, encompassing 1,126 complete regular- and postseason video games, he’s by no means as soon as come off the bench. For so long as Carmelo Anthony’s been a basketball participant, he’s been considered as the perfect, or the most effective, gamers on his crew, a first-squad choose for way back to he can bear in mind. We would suppose that it doesn’t really matter should you begin video games so long as you finish them, however it clearly does matter to a number of gamers; there’s a cause somebody like Manu Ginobili is held up because the exception relatively than the rule. Carmelo Anthony nonetheless sees himself as an elite participant, and for probably the most half, elite gamers begin.

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By nearly any definition, although, Anthony wasn’t an elite participant final 12 months. Whereas it’s cheap to count on him to get a bump from sharing the ground with top-drawer playmakers like Harden and CP3, it’s very a lot an open query as as to whether he’ll carry out a lot better in Houston than he did in Oklahoma Metropolis, and whether or not his addition will assist the Rockets get again to inside hanging distance of the Golden State Warriors this season. Step one towards maximizing his worth is figuring out the position that almost all efficiently places him in place to succeed; the following step is getting Anthony to purchase in and play the half he’s assigned.

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If Anthony appears good in coaching camp and makes D’Antoni’s choice straightforward, then a lot the higher. But when by mid-October it’s trying like someone else (P.J. Tucker, James Ennis, Gerald Inexperienced, et al.) is a greater match within the first-unit frontcourt … nicely, it should be attention-grabbing to search out out whether or not somebody mere weeks faraway from saying, “Solely I do know when it’s greatest for me to take that position,” can be able to face that exact realization.

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Dan Devine is a author and editor for Yahoo Sports activities. Have a tip? E-mail him at [email protected] or comply with him on Twitter!

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