Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder correctly decided to part ways this offseason. There just wasn’t enough offensive coherency between Anthony, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Thunder team. This was very apparent after all three of George, Westbrook, and Anthony were outplayed and beaten by a rookie Donovan Mitchell in the playoffs.
That isn’t to say that Anthony can’t be an impactful player elsewhere. Surely there is a team willing to take a chance on the former superstar. Here are teams I identified as ones most likely to mesh well with Anthony.
SF – Carmelo Anthony, Justise Winslow
The one thing the Heat missed last season was a reliable 1st option. Goran Dragic’s effort was admirable, but 17.3 points per game on this Heat team just doesn’t cut it. Hassan Whiteside complained about having too high of a burden offensively. His 14.0 points per game was 2nd on the Heat, and nobody else on the Heat was really reliable to score with volume, efficiency, and consistency.
Enter Anthony – a player who averaged 6.2 less points on 3.8 less shots per game (and 2.4 less free throws), but who is one year removed from being a 22.4 point per game scorer. Erik Spolestra is one of the best at bringing the best out of washed up veterans, and he has a similar defensive structure to hide Anthony’s flaws on defense to what Billy Donovan had in OKC. Miami is one of the only teams in the league he could fit naturally as a first option, and he should absolutely consider Miami as a destination as such.
PF – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Carmelo Anthony
Has Anthony matured yet? That is a big question for this scenario because if he hasn’t, then Brooklyn would be set back in their rebuild. If he becomes a locker room cancer on a team full of guys who overperformed last season, then this signing could throw off the overachieving nature of the Sean Marks/Kenny Atkinson Nets.
Should Anthony succeed with Brooklyn, then Brooklyn could very well be a playoff team again. Anthony would create a better back court – front court scoring balance, provide a secondary shot creator to D’Angelo Russell, and give this team even greater versatility and depth in the front court. If Anthony can accept a bench role, he could easily contend for 6th man of the year while helping lead Brooklyn to a playoff bid.
Los Angeles Lakers
PF – Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Kuzma
The fit here is a little more uncertain, but the reality of the situation forces Los Angeles to be an option. Few players get worse playing alongside LeBron James. Even if their per game numbers take a hit, the players who buy in to the championship winning culture end up being very productive.
On a team with LeBron James, who Anthony has talked about teaming up with before, Anthony fits well in a complementary forward spot. Both players are versatile enough to go against opposing 3s and 4s. With two elite playmakers at the point, signing with LA could very well end up being a revitalization experience for Melo.
PF – Carmelo Anthony, Al-Farouq Aminu
This signing does a lot of what I already talked about for Portland and Carmelo. Lillard and McCollum have struggled in the postseason without the front court firepower other Western Conference elites have. Melo would greatly increase the balance in the back court front court scoring while also providing the front court versatility alongside other combo forwards like Aminu, Harkless, and Turner.
Melo’s fit as a third scorer was questionable on Oklahoma City, but Lillard and McCollum have achieved a balance of knowing when to play off each other that Russell Westbrook has yet to do with any volume scoring teammate he’s ever had. Integrating Melo would be easier for Terry Stotts than it was for Billy Donovan.
PF – Carmelo Anthony, Markieff Morris
That is one talented starting five. There are 24 all-star appearances among Wall, Beal, Anthony, and Howard, and Porter is a very high end starter who will be in consideration for an all-star selection going forward. Whether Anthony starts or comes off the bench (Markieff Morris has good chemistry with the Wizards’ starters), he will absolutely be a threat from the forward spot.
John Wall is one of the leading assist men in the NBA, and there is no reason Anthony and Wall can’t run pick and pop. Playing with the bench could be a great opportunity for Anthony to be productive as a first option offensively again. Either way, there are a lot of opportunities with an Anthony signing.
PF – Carmelo Anthony, Ryan Anderson
With Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Clint Capela all unsigned or signed elsewhere, Houston has to re-acquire some three and D wings, but if we learned anything from the Conference Finals (besides that the NBA wanted Golden State to play Cleveland again), it is that Houston’s lack of a front court shot creator exposed their three point reliant nature as a basketball team.
Enter a dynamic forward like Anthony, and the issue suddenly goes away. If Houston can get back it’s three and D guys, there is no clue as to how many minutes Anthony would receive after guys like Joe Johnson, Mbah a Moute, and Ryan Anderson were benched in the playoffs, but he could absolutely help out the Rockets.