James Harden taking a pay cut not only freed up the room necessary for Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey to sign P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, but it also created some extra flexibility for the team in the case that Morey wanted to continue to tinker with the roster either in free agency or through trades. A huge name remains available on the market that has a portion of 76ers fans intrigued in the possibility of bringing him in, and subsequently also his mythos. After all, it’s hard to turn down a legend like Carmelo Anthony if he comes calling.
While it might be difficult not to get excited about the prospect of adding a legend like Melo, I’m here to tell you that the Philadelphia 76ers should absolutely not want him on the roster — lest they forego the opportunity to add a more impactful contributor.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my work outside of Philly Sports Network (probably all of you), I also cover the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, NBA Twitter might want you to believe that Carmelo was wasting away on his couch watching games from home until the lowly Los Angeles Lakers finally gave him the opportunity he deserved, but he actually played two seasons with the Blazers before his recent stint alongside fellow Banana Boat Brother, LeBron James.
At first glance through his Basketball-Reference page, one might believe that Anthony was decent — nay, even good — in his time in Portland. Through two seasons splitting time as a starter and a primary offensive option off of the bench, Melo averaged 14.3 points while shooting 43 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. And while he did experience a career renaissance with the Blazers, which led to his Lakers stint, to begin with, it wasn’t always flowery in the Rose City.
In LA, Anthony was presented with the perfect situation for him to succeed at this stage in his career, even if the team itself wasn’t doing a lot of winning. Playing alongside LeBron — one of his best friends and arguably the greatest basketball player of all time — he was able to accept a more tertiary role, a direction he half-embraced in Portland but could never fully commit to.
It also helped that he had Russell Westbrook, a former MVP best known for his athletic slashing, and Anthony Davis, a true All-NBA big who does his best work inside of the arc, on his team as well. Their presences made it more logical for Melo to become virtually a 3-point specialist, the role he’s best suited to serve at this point in his career.
The fear is, if he were to be brought to the 76ers, without LeBron’s royal presence to keep him in check, Melo would regress into the inefficient, midrange-trigger-happy blackhole that he was for most of his career, including with the Blazers.
Each time I watched him deployed a jab step that fooled absolutely zero people before jacking up a contested middy that clanged off the iron, a small part of me died inside. Even though his shooting marks were pretty on par with his career and his accuracy from beyond the arc was downright impressive, Anthony could never seem to hit them when the Blazers really needed him to and was far too happy to settle for one of his trademark face-up jimmies.
The 76ers are already loaded with offensive talent between Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tobias Harris, and their analytics darling and wunderkind, Tyrese Maxey. Even though he’d be the fourth-best scorer for the Philadelphia 76ers at best, there’s no doubt in my mind that Melo would regard himself as the top option and demand a steady diet of post touches that will take the ball out of Embiid and Harden’s hands.
Rather than play the final card up his sleeve just to bring Melo to the 76ers to watch him isolate from the high-post over and over again while playing atrocious defense going the other way, Daryl Morey would be much better off allocating those resources elsewhere for the 76ers. I will always be grateful for what Carmelo Anthony has done for the game of basketball, but I will also be relieved if I never have to cover him for one of my teams ever again.