There aren’t a lot of things that NBA experts could agree on, but for more than a year, there was a consensus among them regarding the diminished abilities of one player: Carmelo Anthony. They all agreed he didn’t have what it takes to play in the NBA anymore.
The pundits pointed to several reasons as to why Anthony wasn’t an NBA-caliber player: that he was a sieve on defense, that he didn’t want to accept a limited role for a championship contender, that his isolation-heavy style of scoring had no place in today’s game.
Eventually, even NBA teams seemed to agree. After a brief stint for the Houston Rockets in the 2019 season, Anthony was traded to the Chicago Bulls, and was immediately waived by the team. Anthony, who had previously made the playoffs in 11 of his first 16 seasons, watched the 2019 playoffs from home without an NBA team to play for. It only took injuries to several of their rotation players for the Portland Trailblazers, who were fresh off a run to the Conference Finals, to take a chance on the 10-time All Star and sign him to a one-year non-guaranteed deal last November.
But after a season with the Blazers, Carmelo Anthony has proven them wrong: Not did only did he show that he deserves to play in the league, but he also proved that he can contribute significantly to a playoff team. In his return to the NBA, Anthony averaged 15.4 points on 43% shooting along with 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Against the top-seeded Lakers in the first round, he was just as productive, norming 15.2 points, five boards, and two assists in five games.
Since entering the league as part of a talented 2003 NBA Draft class, Anthony has won just about every accolade in the league, save for one: an NBA championship. And with his career closer to the end than it is to the beginning, winning a title to cap off a Hall of Fame career must no doubt be on his mind. After proving that he can still play at a high-level, several teams will likely be interested in acquiring his services.
If Carmelo Anthony wants to end his career by going out on top, here are three teams that he can play for that can give him an NBA title that has eluded him so far in his career:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
Let’s start with the team that Melo torched in the first round: the Lakers. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Los Angeles are in the midst of their own playoff run, but there is no secret that this is a team that has clear ties to the three-time Olympic gold medal winner. James is one of Anthony’s closest friends in the league and is a part of his Banana Boat Team with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, and the two have not been shy about their desire to play together.
There have been several reports of talks between Anthony possibly joining the Lakers, but something always seemed to get in the way. But after an impactful season for the Blazers, the Lakers might want to revisit the prospect of adding another veteran to their team. Despite dispatching Portland in the first round, the Lakers’ lineup is not without its flaws, as they have at times struggled on the offensive end, especially when it comes to 3-point shooting.
Carmelo Anthony, as it happens, can provide exactly that, as he averaged 1.5 made threes per game for the Trailblazers and shot 39% from distance. In the end, the prospect of winning a championship, playing with an old friend, and living in Hollywood might be too much for the 10-time All Star to resist.
2. Golden State Warriors
It might be easy to forget given that they finished the season with a Western Conference-worst 15-50 record, but the Golden State Warriors enter 2020-2021 season as one of the teams that have a shot of winning it all. The All Star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson expected to return from injury, while players like Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins are still in the team’s lineup. When back at full strength, the Dubs could be on their way back to the juggernaut team that cast a large shadow over the rest of the league in the last five years, winning three titles and changing the way the game is played.
Add to that the fact that they also own the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft this October, which they can use to trade for another star, and Melo may want to consider looking at the Bay Area if he wants to win a title. As for his fit, he might have to compete for minutes with Wiggins and some of their younger players once he plays for Coach Steve Kerr’s team.
However, this is a team that is lacking in playoff experience outside of their All-Stars, and a veteran presence and someone with playoff experience is always needed in a team with championship aspirations.
3. Portland Trail Blazers
There are several teams that Anthony could join that can give him better chances to win an elusive NBA championship, but why shouldn’t he consider running it back with the team that took a chance on him in the first place?
As an eight seed and coming off a first round exits, Portland might not be on top of people’s list of championship contenders, but this is actually a team that made the Western Conference Finals just two years ago. Damian Lillard, despite being hounded by injuries later in their first round series against the Lakers, was named as the Bubble MVP and can build on his string of brilliant performances in the new season. With a healthy Jusuf Nurkic and backcourt partner CJ McCollum, the Blazers could be primed for a deep playoff run in the upcoming season. Lillard himself said that he believes Portland could have made the Finals last season if only they acquired Melo during their playoff run, and a new season gives them another opportunity to do that.
Of course, the Blazers may have to add more talent to make a deeper run than they did this season, especially in a stacked Western Conference, but Carmelo Anthony has made it clear that he wants to return to Portland, calling it his home. Other teams may give him better chances to win his first ring, but it is with the Blazers where at this point, he feels closest, and that could provide him with what he needs to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in his career.