The Trail Blazers have been interested in Carmelo Anthony for years and both parties reached the point where they needed each other, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who provides an inside look at the events that led to this week’s signing.
Portland general manager Neil Olshey conveyed that sentiment during a phone call with Anthony, Woj relays. The 10-time All-Star had been out of the league for a year and hadn’t gotten offers from any other teams. The Blazers are severely shorthanded in the front court and needed to find someone who can contribute right away.
Portland’s 5-8 start can be at least partially attributed to the loss of Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Pau Gasol. Nurkic is still recovering after fracturing his leg late last season. Collins recently had shoulder surgery and isn’t expected back until March. Gasol, an offseason addition, is rehabilitating a stress fracture in his left foot that he suffered in the playoffs.
Olshey sees Anthony as someone who can provide scoring punch and command respect in the locker room. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have been proponents of adding Anthony, and McCollum worked out with him in New York over the summer. Olshey took the recommendations to heart and remained in touch with Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose of CAA Sports. The GM was interested in adding Anthony, but only if he had regular playing time to offer.
Talks got more serious this week as the need for another front court scorer became obvious. Olshey discussed the topic frequently with coach Terry Stotts and it was agreed that a non-guaranteed contract was the best option. Anthony will have a chance to prove his worth before contracts throughout the league become fully guaranteed in early January.
Wojnarowski notes that Anthony has contributed to his time as an outcast. He still viewed himself as a star when he was traded to the Thunder two years ago and wasn’t willing to accept the role that management asked. In Houston last year, a tense history with coach Mike D’Antoni prompted the Rockets to cut ties after a slow start.
Anthony may be looking at his last chance in Portland, but at least it’s off to a positive start. Olshey has a long history with Anthony and was encouraged by what he heard during their phone call, which was that Anthony still cares about winning and isn’t just looking for an NBA farewell tour. Sources tell Wojnarowski that Anthony had a physical today and could be playing by Tuesday, so we should know soon how much he has left to offer.