It has been more than two months since Carmelo Anthony appeared in an NBA game, fueling speculation that his long career may be coming to an end. However, two sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that Anthony has “multiple” options available to him and is expected to pick one before next month’s trade deadline.
According to Amick, it’s not clear whether these options would involve a trade – since Anthony is still technically on the Rockets‘ roster – or whether he’d be released and subsequently signed by a new club. Either way, there are “strong signs” that he’ll resume his NBA career at some point this season, Amick writes.
LeBron James has expressed some interest in bringing his good friend to Los Angeles, and the Lakers have been the team most frequently linked to Anthony, as Amick notes. But the fact that L.A has a full roster is “no small obstacle,” a team source tells Amick. It’s unclear whether the Lakers would be willing to replace any of their current players with Carmelo, particularly since there are questions about the the 34-year-old’s conditioning and overall game.
Anthony has seen his production slip over the last two seasons in Oklahoma City and Houston. Although the veteran forward averaged a career-high 6.4 three-point attempts during his 10 games with the Rockets, he still displayed an affinity for deep two-point shots, and has been a liability on defense. Carmelo’s on/off-court statistics have reflected his struggles, as Houston had a -9.0 net rating in his minutes this season.
As we wait to see where Anthony ends up, it’s worth noting that the Rockets would certainly prefer to trade him rather than release him outright, since doing so would take the team off the hook for the tax penalties associated with his $1.51MM cap hit.
A team with interest in Anthony might not mind trading for him, as long as that club isn’t also a taxpayer, since the Rockets have already paid over half of his 2018/19 salary — the financial commitment for a team acquiring him would essentially be the same as signing him to a new minimum-salary free agent contract.