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Jerry Colangelo says Carmelo Anthony would have been distracted with impressing to get another NBA shot

Team USA, Jerry Colangelo, Carmelo Anthony

Fans expected Carmelo Anthony to come out of international retirement in glorious fashion, slated for one last hurrah with the red, white, and blue, considering his precarious situation in the NBA could use a much-needed injection of hoop action with Team USA. Yet managing director Jerry Colangelo thought that while he would excel at the international stage as he has before, his focus would be muddled with a restless ambition to return to the NBA.

“First of all, I had a great relationship with Melo. He did a great job. He actually might have been as good or better in international play as he was in the NBA. Point is, he was very good in international play,” Colangelo told Michael Lee of The Athletic. “I understood why the agent, he’s looking to get him the exposure, looking to get him another shot. But the only way (Anthony) can really be satisfied is for him to have another shot in the NBA, with another team and recently, he’s been aggressive media-wise, letting people know, ‘I feel like I can still play. I just need an opportunity, blah, blah, blah.’ With us, that would’ve been more of a distraction, as we discussed it. We need to focus on this team concept. We have a bunch of new guys and we’re going to go with this new group. And when you insert a different element and it detracts in any way, you lose it. That was it. That’s no reflection on Carmelo. I love the guy. But I don’t think it would’ve been healthy for our program at this time.”

Anthony’s interest in joining Team USA was more of an open audition at the world level to show he’s still able to play the game at a high level, perhaps not the most crystalline ones considering what’s at stake for USA Basketball in its pursuit of a gold medal.

Colangelo decided to turn down Melo’s offer to participate while thanking him for his contributions — very aware that his mindset was clouded by wanting to return to the NBA instead of a pure desire to secure another gold around his neck.