The Trail Blazers’ other options at forward when they signed Carmelo Anthony last year: Rodney Hood,* Kent Bazemore, Nassir Little, Skal Labissiere, Mario Hezonja,* Gary Trent (pre-breakout).
The Trail Blazers other options at forward now: Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., Gary Trent Jr. (post-breakout), Rodney Hood, Nassir Little.
*This overstates Portland’s forward depth. Hood was needed more at guard with Damian Lillard injured, and Mario Hezonja was playing small-ball center with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins injured.
Anthony started all 64 of his games (including play-in and playoff) for the Trail Blazers last season. Re-signing, how will Anthony fit into Portland’s rotation next season?
Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey, via Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest:
“Melo understands right now,” Olshey said. “He’ll probably come off the bench. I think he can be featured more with the second unit. Depending who starts at three, we assume it’s Cov and Derrick, there may not be as many shots there for him. So being able to feature him with the second group, getting him some post ups, have him be more of a target for plays with that second group, probably gives him a higher usage.”
Anthony has expressed how important starting is to him. He has said he couldn’t be effective in a small role. Though he came off the bench for the Rockets, they reportedly felt pressured not to pull him from the rotation (so instead, exiled him).
Houston didn’t necessarily treat Anthony fairly. He deserved an opportunity to show how he’d handle a lesser role.
Ideally, Anthony and the Trail Blazers are on the same page. At age 36, he just can’t take over games like he used to. Off the bench, Anthony would have more opportunities to control the ball.
But the way Portland staggers Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Anthony will rarely be the focal point. Anthony must improve his complementary skills.
He’s capable. In better shape, he proved that last season. Anthony no longer looked washed up. So much of this is about his mentality.
Anthony has made such a big deal about starting, there’s extra attention on how this will go.