Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni says Carmelo Anthony and P.J. Tucker won’t share the floor much this season.
Anthony will compete for a starting spot in training camp, but ultimately could come off the bench, based on whatever D’Antoni decides makes most sense for the Rockets.
More will come next week but here’s an interesting part of my conversation with Mike D’Antoni:
The projected CP3-Harden-Tucker-Melo-Capela lineup won’t be seen much. Ideally, MDA wants Carmelo on the floor when Tucker is off, and vice versa. He sees them both as 4s.
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 21, 2018
Anthony signed a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Rockets. Many around the league aren’t so sure Anthony will make Houston better. In his lone season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017-18, Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game, and shot only 40.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Being paired with two elite playmakers in Chris Paul and James Harden, this is Anthony’s best, and maybe last chance to be a productive and positive player in the NBA. The Rockets averaged 112.4 points per game last season, ranking second in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors.
They also made the most 3-pointers in the league, hitting 1,256. As long as he buys into the system, and plays the pick-and-pop game with Paul and Harden instead of settling for tough shots on isolation plays, Anthony should be fine on offense in Houston.
Houston was a top-10 defensive team in 2017-18 as well. They gave up 103.9 points per game, good for sixth place. But with the departures of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, and the addition of Anthony, it’s unlikely the Rockets can reproduce those defensive results. Anthony is one of the worst defenders in the league. He’s too slow to stay in front of other forwards and prioritizes saving his energy for the offensive end.
Carmelo Anthony is a better offensive player than P.J. Tucker, but Tucker’s toughness and defensive ability are invaluable. It’s probably a smart move by D’Antoni to stagger Anthony and Tucker. If the Rockets are struggling to score, and Paul and Harden aren’t having good nights, Anthony can provide a scoring punch. But if Houston is producing on offense and giving up easy baskets on defense, it would be beneficial to play Tucker over Anthony.