Carmelo Anthony is hoping for a return to the NBA scene – he just does not want to jump in and shoot the jumpers in Chicago.
The Rockets agreed to send the exiles to the Bulls on Monday, paying them money as a sweetener to complete the deal. Anthony should not play for the Bulls, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, while Chicago will look for a workable exchange before the February 7 deadline.
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It was a difficult run for Anthony, who was traded from the Thunder to the Hawks in July, foregone by the Hawks, signed by the Rockets, and pulled out of Houston's rotation after just 10 games. He would have had several offers of contenders, but it is difficult to find a perfect fit for the All-Star 10 times.
If Anthony chooses to continue his career in the NBA (we'll talk about it later), here are some possibilities …
The obvious link: the Lakers
It's inevitable. The Lakers are in the background since Anthony and the Rockets split up.
However, the connection came about because of LeBron James 'desire to play with one of his best friends rather than the Lakers' desire to add Anthony to the list. Wojnarowski notes that the Lakers are not planning to give up a player to open the door for Anthony, but Los Angeles could be the first destination if President Magic Johnson and his general manager Rob Pelinka decide to move some pieces.
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The influence of James is undoubtedly important, but it does not make much sense in basketball. James, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram would all play in front of Anthony, and turning Anthony into a shootout did not work well in Houston. What is his role in Los Angeles?
Until Anthony joins a new team, the Lakers rumors will never die. Do not be surprised if this does not happen.
The hopes of the series: Heat, Pelicans, Trail Blazers
New Orleans and Portland were part of teams interested in Anthony in November and, although their situation is different, the Pelicans and Trail Blazers could still call on Anthony's agent.
The Pels are three games from eighth place and Anthony Davis will miss a few games due to a finger injury. With a brutal schedule coming, New Orleans could use a little depth. Unfortunately, the Pelicans rank among the top five offensives and the last five for the defense. Anthony is exactly the kind of player they do not need.
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The Trail Blazers attempted to acquire Anthony in 2017 and CJ McCollum seemed to think that Anthony would have been on board with a move to the Northwest Division. Portland is one of the last 10 teams in points, so Anthony could give a boost to the second unit. The Blazers are however not in a desperate situation, at 29-20 (No. 4 West). If Anthony wants to move on the sidelines, Anthony will probably not be the biggest game changer on the market.
In the East, the Heat are fighting to stay above .500 and secure a playoff spot. They are elite on the defense (sixth in the defensive classification) but could use a scoring threat on the perimeter. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has always made the most of his players, and the training staff always keeps the players in optimal conditions. It does not hurt that Dwyane Wade, a close friend of Anthony, hang out in Miami. Maybe one last run for both?
The joker: the nets
There are no obvious links, no buddies sending texts and no previous business discussions. Why would the nets do this?
Brooklyn would give Anthony a chance to go home without ever talking to Knicks owner James Dolan. The Nets also have a slot available after the purchase of Kenneth Faried. The complicating factors are therefore less complex. It could be a case of good place, good time.
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It's a young and exciting team, so it would be understandable that the Nets would not want to pull the trigger of an Anthony agreement and meddle in chemistry. Nevertheless, he showed the ability to sacrifice himself for his team and could be open to an opportunity out of the board.
The informal end: the retreat
Allen Iverson said his former teammate should not retire because he still has "a lot to do" and he just needs to be in the "right situation". Players and fans have been very supportive of Anthony, but what is the good situation for Melo?
At 34, he will not sign a long-term contract and he's not good enough to be a beginner. Unless he feels comfortable on the road to Vince Carter and on non-rival teams, the best choice might be to go away. (It should be noted that Carter is a real monster for prolonging his career for so long.)
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Take it from another former NBA star.
"I do not want him to go through another situation like this, and people are just uttering negativity about this man's legacy," Tracy McGrady said in November. "I really think, because it did not work the last two teams, go ahead and you have a career in the Hall of Fame, go ahead, let yourself go."
Retirement is a personal decision and Anthony may not be willing to give up the game yet. It's completely up to him.
But it would be a pity if one of the top 20 scorers in NBA history and a Hall of Famer surfing continue on that path.