Carmelo Anthony Is Ready To Run It Back

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

One of the reoccurring themes with regard to the Trail Blazers and free agents is that it can be hard to get players to sign on to play in Portland, but once they do, they generally enjoy the experience and often choose to stick around even after their time with the team is over.

That seems to be the case with Carmelo Anthony.

After previously rebuffing the Trail Blazers’ attempts to acquire his services, Anthony signed as a free agent with Portland after spending a year out of the league. It was somewhat of a desperate situation -- Anthony needed an opportunity to get back into the NBA after unsuccessful stints with the Thunder and Rockets and the Trail Blazers needed someone to fill the gaping hole at the forward positions after injuries to Rodney Hood and Zach Collins -- that worked out for both parties.

“Portland -- if you want to say rebound is the word -- allowing me to come in and just be myself and be who I am, do what I do best, I’ll always be appreciative of that,” said Anthony. “Being on this team, I’ve learned a lot.”

Apparently so much so Anthony is ready to run it back next season.

“Honestly think that I’ve found in a home in Portland,” said Anthony after the Trail Blazers were eliminated by the Lakers in Game 5 of their first round playoff series. “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 that’s the best fit for me, the best situation.”

Anthony shot 43 percent from the field, his best mark since leaving the New York Knicks, and 39 percent from three to average 15.5 points in 32.8 minutes per game as Portland’s starting power forward (for comparison, Al-Farouq Aminu averaged 9.4 points on 43 and 34 percent shooting from the field and three, respectively, as Portland’s starting power forward in 2018-19).

And perhaps most importantly, Anthony shot just 291 shots described as “midrange” during the 2019-20 season, down from 460 during his last full season with the Thunder and 665 in his last season with the Knicks, and a blistering 63 percent on right corner threes this season, a valuable asset to have on a team with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

“He got to his sweet spots, showed the midrange, made three-pointers and he rebounded the ball as well,” said McCollum, who was one of the largest proponents of bringing in Anthony three years ago. “We’re thankful to have had him and hopefully he can come back next year, but once again, that’s above my pay grade. If it was up to me, I’d love to play with him for the rest of his career, but I guess that’s to be determined.”

But at least the want-to is there. Many assumed that, after rehabbing his image in Portland, Anthony would have a number of more attractive suitors this offseason. And that might very well be the case, though his priority seems to be sticking around rather than greener pastures.

“Good things happen to those who stay true to themselves,” said Anthony. “I’m experiencing that, I’m a prime example of that. As long as I always stay true to myself, I feel like good things happen. In the midst of me being true to myself, Portland came, which was a great thing for me, a great thing for the organization, a great time all the way around.”

Of course, contract negotiations can be tricky, even when both parties are generally in agreement. And while Anthony worked well as a season-long starter, it’s less clear how he effective he might be if/when he was asked to come off the bench (though that might not be an issue, at least initially, considering Zach Collins is undergoing offseason surgery to a stress fracture in his left ankle) after being all but promised a starting role when he joined the Trail Blazers back in November.

But you figure Carmelo Anthony knows what he wants out of a team after 16 season in the NBA. And at this point in his life and career, he wants another tour in Portland.

“Especially having this experience now and kind of just getting my feet wet and coming in, just being who I am, staying true to myself, I really hope that it can be Portland at the end of the day where we give ourselves a chance to keep this team together, get guys healthy and get another run at it,” said Anthony. “Whenever you find a situation that’s comfortable and allow you to be who you are, you want to stay in that situation. There’s no need to try different things when something is working.”

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