On Houston's Puzzling Pursuit of Carmelo Anthony

By Salman Ali on July 13, 2018
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The Houston Rockets have pursued 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony for a nearly a decade now. At face value, their continued pursuit makes a lot of sense. The Rockets have been an organization that's continued to aggressively pursue a 3rd championship ever since general manager Daryl Morey took over in 2007. Historically, you need star power to win a championship so pursuing Anthony made perfect sense for Houston for a long time.

However, Carmelo Anthony at this stage in his career is the furthest thing from star talent. Quite frankly, Anthony probably isn't even a starter level player anymore. His athleticism is on the decline, he had career lows across the board in 2017-18, he doesn't get to the free throw line as much as he used to, and he's a negative defensive presence. To compound this, it doesn't seem Anthony himself understands all of this. This further's the odd fascination Houston has with him.

Anthony is obviously still talented. His footwork is very good, he can handle the ball, and he's a good shooter. He just hasn't been able to put all of his talents together to form a positive impact over the last couple years. Anthony might be the exact opposite of an advanced stats darling. It's truly confounding why an analytically inclined organization like the Rockets would be so keen on him.

There's also the Mike D'Antoni element in all of this. It's no secret how poorly D'Antoni's partnership with Anthony ended in New York. It was a very public feud that ultimately ended with D'Antoni resigning as head coach of the New York Knicks. Carmelo's ball-stopping, slow, and deliberate style was the polar opposite of how D'Antoni wanted his free flowing offenses to run. However, D'Antoni publicly insists that both he and Anthony are at different points in their career and "would be fine" with a reunion in Houston, per Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

It's likely that the Rockets internally believe that Carmelo Anthony adapt his talents to a role that best fits the team. Even if it's hard to see the vision, it's natural for one to keeping coming back to "This is Daryl Morey. He clearly knows what he's doing." The amount of times Morey's made good with thought-to-be-damaged-goods is astounding. It's one of those things where the organization has built up so much enough equity from years of sound management that you're inclined to give the Rockets a chance before outright dismissing it.

We're allowed to have healthy skepticism, but Houston deserves the benefit of the doubt.

1 comment:

  1. This is another piece for the ISO offensive...Paul, Anthony, Nene, Green, and Gordon looks scary but I think they need another defensive /minded guard