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Joel Blank: Would Carmelo Anthony be a fit with the Rockets?

Carmelo Anthony failed last season with Oklahoma City. Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Is Carmelo Anthony the missing piece to the Rockets puzzle, or is he the square peg that just won't fit in the round hole in H-town? The worst kept secret in the NBA is the news coming out of Oklahoma City that Carmelo Anthony is going to be a "victim" of the stretch provision and essentially be waived. As a soon-to-be free agent, he has always been on the Rockets radar. GM Daryl Morey has gone after the small forward from Syracuse repeatedly, to no avail. The question now isn't if the third time is the charm; the bigger question becomes, is he the right fit to help get the Rockets over the hump and win an NBA title?

Last season with the Thunder, Carmelo Anthony had a chance to be a part of something big, and something better than any team he had ever played on. Sure he won an NCAA title, but since then his teams have been more bad than good and nowhere close to winning. He was known less for points and more for headaches, as he put himself and his stats above anything else. He’s had the reputation as selfish throughout his career and he lived up to that billing once again last season.

When questioned about his lack of production and possible demotion to the bench, he said he was unwilling to take a reserve role, even if it was for the betterment of the team. He constantly took bad shots that were deep, rushed and contested, even when coming off the bench cold at key junctures in games.

There was very little harmony between Melo, Paul George and Russell Westbrook and they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the young and hungry Utah Jazz. Anthony opted in to the final year of his deal at over $27 million dollars for next season and in the process, sealed his fate with the Thunder as he was one and done, just like his college career.

The Thunder are so far over the cap and with a desire to improve the team around Westbrook and George, GM Sam Presti knew the only thing he could do to free up cash and give his team hope, was get rid of Anthony. As he stares reality in the face and is at that crossraods that every good player has to face, is he going to do less to try and win more, or screw it all up and continue to just try and score?

We all know that the Rockets need help at the small forward position, especially with Trevor Ariza leaving in free agency.  Houston has lost out on a number of candidates, via free agency or trade. Unless prayers can be answered and a team is willing to accept Ryan Anderson’s ridiculous contract, solutions are running pretty thin. It’s been reported that Melo has been open to joining the team in the past. He works out with James Harden and Chris Paul in the off season, so he knows their game and has a relationship with them both on and off the court. As we saw with CP3 and the Beard last season, that is a very valuable aspect in any player the Rockets bring in.

Anthony has a stellar resume filled with stats and accomplishments that no one can ever take away from him, but is he willing to make sacrifices for the sake of winning and can he be the missing link instead of this season's version of Joe Johnson? Can he get along and coexist with a coach he once butted heads with, who eventually resigned, in Mike D'Antoni? Does that coach even want him on the team or is this where the GM shows who's boss and creates chaos in the happy place that is the Clutch City front office? Is there enough ball to go around and is he willing to play defense on a consistant basis for the first time in his career? These are all questions that need to be answered before a move of this magnitude is made. The last thing you want to do is to blow it all up before these Rockets even get to taxi their Finals destination. If you ask me, the answer is no.

 

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The NASCAR Cup Series heads for Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers 400. MIS is one of the fastest racetracks in the country, as cars are capable of reaching speeds of 201-205 miles per hour. Hopefully, we will see a safe race considering the speeds we see here. We will more than likely see a race that is vastly different from what we saw last here when the drivers utilized the draft to pass around this track. This year, the cars are less aero-dependent and will be much more spread out. The drivers will need to continue to manage their tires as they have been doing all year.

Last weekend at Indy, Tyler Reddick captured his second victory of 2022 in dramatic fashion. The race came down to numerous restarts where drivers would drive way too deep into the first corner and run into each other each time. This was the central theme of the race, as restarts pretty much decided everything. We saw drivers like AJ Allmendinger, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney get swept up in wrecks in turn one. On the final restart, Ross Chastain decided he didn’t want to be a part of these shenanigans and took the access road that skipped turn one. This moved catapulted him to the lead with Tyler Reddick as the two battled for the lead in a two-lap shootout. When the dust settled, Reddick came away victorious and Ross Chastain was black flagged for shortcutting.

The finish of this race sparked a serious debate among drivers and fans alike about ditching the Indianapolis road course and returning to the oval in 2023. Personally, this doesn’t make any sense to me. While yes, turn one is difficult to maneuver, it’s mainly because drivers all decide to send it as deep as they can, not because of the racetrack configuration. It’s also a bit disingenuous as for years, drivers and fans have been saying they don’t want to see the oval and that the track is designed for IndyCar. If I had to choose, I would say NASCAR just stop going to Indy and go to the short track down the road at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. We have seen so many great races there, and I think the Cup Series would be perfect for that track. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR responds to this and what they decide to do for next season.

Kurt Busch will be out for the third consecutive week as he continues to recover from a concussion. This has been tough to hear about, and now there are legitimate concerns that he will not return to racing. There is a good chance however that 23XII could be saving him for the playoffs which are coming up.

For now, Ty Gibbs will continue to fill in for Busch. In his two starts the young phenom has performed extremely well, finishing 16th at Pocono and 17th at Indy. It’s clear that this young man can drive these cars, the only problem is finding a place for him to run next season.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Martin Truex Jr. By any other standard, the season that Truex is having has been great. Constantly up front, leading laps and just overall contending. Unfortunately for him, 2022 hasn’t been just any average season. With 14 winners and Truex not being one of them, he is on the playoff bubble even though he is fourth in points. While his playoff future maybe uncertain right now, there are some good racetracks he is going to where can easily get that first win, and Michigan is one of them. Over the last four races here, he currently has the highest average finish, the highest percentage of laps led, but no victories. I see that changing this week. Toyota and Gibbs have been fast this season as Truex’s teammates have all punched their tickets to the playoffs. Look for Truex to be next in line.

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