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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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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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