It was a marriage of desperation: Carmelo Anthony wanted back in the NBA anywhere he could land after Houston cut him and nobody picked him up last season or through the offseason. Injuries so decimated Portland’s front line — Zach Collins had just gone down with a shoulder injury to top it off — they needed someone, anyone, who could play power forward to help out.
It worked. Brilliantly.
Carmelo Anthony averaged 15.4 points a game during the season, in the bubble he was critical in lifting Portland past Memphis and into the postseason. In the playoffs, he averaged 15.2 a game while shooting 41.2% from three. ‘Melo is a free agent now but hopes to stay in Portland, he said after the Blazers were eliminated by the Lakers Saturday.
“I pray that it can be Portland. Honestly, I think that I found a home in Portland. I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me. At this point in my career, I do think that’s the best fit for me…
“I really hope it can be Portland at the end of the day.”
As always, it will come down to money. Anthony, the future Hall of Famer, played for the veteran minimum last season. Portland has Hassan Whiteside coming off the books (if they re-sign him it will be for a lot less than the $27.1 million he made last season) and a $12.8 million decision to make on Trevor Ariza, but either way they will not have a lot of money to pay Anthony. Maybe mid-level exception money. Will another team come in higher to try and poach him?
Carmelo Anthony accepted a role in Portland, next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, something he wasn’t willing to do in other stops on his tour. He fit in and played solidly for the Trail Blazers, giving them a scoring punch the lineup needed.
Portland fans want Anthony back. Blazer players do too, but they understand it’s a business. As McCollum said after the game.
“If it was up to me, I’d love to play with him for the rest of his career. I guess that’s to be determined.”