Carmelo Anthony strongly refutes he idea that he should come off the bench

Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz - Game Three

Now that Carmelo Anthony’s trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks was finalized, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before his contract is bought out and he joins the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

While multiple reports from credible reporters have indicated that, it’s not exactly set in stone, though.

What role will Melo play alongside James Harden and Chris Paul if he signs there?

That is the question.

The Rockets are in desperate need of a starting wing now that Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute are elsewhere. But, Anthony is essentially the polar opposite of those two players.

Coach Mike D’Antoni gave Ariza and Mbah a Moute significant minutes due to their impactful defensive skills and versatility on that end of the floor. Neither filled it up offensively, nor was asked to on a nightly basis.

Anthony has never been heralded for his defensive efforts and has made roughly $230 million in NBA salaries alone based on his isolation and spot-up dominance on the offensive end of the court. He might go down as one of the best isolation scorers in league history.

But, placing Melo, who isn’t afraid to chuck up shots, alongside Harden and Paul, it seems like there’s too much of an offensive focus and not enough defensive firepower. That’s not to say that Anthony isn’t a fit in Houston, but he might help the team the most by coming in off the bench and taking over the scoring load when Paul and/or Harden need a breather.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors

However, Anthony made it crystal clear that he will not accept that role wherever he ends up signing.

Still a starter

“I know how to play this game of basketball,” he said, per Jemele Hill of The Undefeated. “I’ve been playing it for a long time. When I feel like I’m ready to take that role, then I’ll take that role. Only I know when it’s best for me to take that role. I’m not going to do that in a situation where I still know my capabilities and what I can do. And at the end of the day, the people who really matter know my capabilities and what I can still do. You start getting to the media and debates, it’s going to always be kind of back-and-forth.”

Therefore, he’s not ready to take on that role. But, interestingly, he noted that he wants to win (apparently without making the individual sacrifice of coming off the bench).

Oklahoma City Thunder v New York Knicks

“I think winning … rewrites everything,” he said. “It settles everything. I also look back at this past year. When we were winning, the story was written already. When we started losing, the story is written. It’s almost premeditated. I’m playing ball. I’m happy. I’m excited about what’s to come, wherever that may be.”

Melo averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting last season alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the Thunder. Those were both career-lows, as were his 15.0 field goal attempts per contest. But, he doesn’t want to be judged by that output.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers

“I was more hurt because a lot of people just take the last six months,” he said. “That’s what you start to become. That becomes your story. For me, out of all the work I put in the NBA — wins, losses, points scored, whatever — to be judged off of six months of a year overshadowed 15 years of what you’ve accomplished. That’s the hurtful part.”

It will be fascinating to see what type of role he will play in Houston if he ends up there.

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