NBA Teams That Should Take a Flyer on Fab Melo
But, hey, on the bright side, 29 other teams can bring him aboard if they're willing to pick up his $1.3 million salary this year. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, it's likely that some intrepid franchise will take a crack at the disappointing big man.
In theory, just about every team should be kicking the tires on the Syracuse product. After all, he was a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Plus, he averaged 9.8 points, six rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game in the D-League last year. Those numbers were good enough to earn Melo nods to the D-League All-Defensive First Team and the D-League All-Rookie First Team.
But obviously there are some real issues with Melo's work ethic and maturity, so whichever team takes him on will have to weigh the big man's potential against the headache of dealing with his frustrating attitude.
It's not easy to find s 7'0" shot-blocker, so lots of general managers are sure to make calls to Melo's agent. Ideally, teams that have time to develop a prospect (read, "aren't contending anytime soon") and need a defensive presence in the middle would make the most sense.
And there are a few outside-the-box destinations that might work well, too.
Let's try a few clubs on for size to see where Melo fits best.
I mean, why not?
Talk all you want about the Charlotte Bobcats' offseason signing of Al Jefferson, this is still a team with nothing to lose. Well, except for 50 or 60 games this year.
Charlotte is in love with broad-winged centers who block shots, so Melo would be right up its alley. At present Bismack Biyombo, a major project in his own right, and Brendan Haywood back up Jefferson at the 5. Why not bring Melo into camp and see if he can't beat out Haywood for an end-of-the-bench job?
How hard could it be?
Until the Bobcats prove they have a clue about how to develop their own talent, they should be snatching up every available player with even a hint of potential. For all his flaws, Melo still has a shot to turn himself into a real player.
Somebody get M.J. off the golf course and tell him to take a chance on Melo.
New York Knicks
Unlike the Bobcats, who should take a chance on Melo because they've got nothing to lose, the New York Knicks should give the center a call because they need him.
No team blocked fewer shots per game last year than the Knicks, who turned away a mere 3.6 attempts per game, according to NBA.com. In just 26 minutes per D-League contest, Melo swatted 3.1 on his own.
Besides, the last time the Brazilian big man was any good, he was playing for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. So if there's anyplace on earth where he might get a little bit of positive fan support, it's in the state of New York.
Maybe Tyson Chandler could whip the second-year pro into shape. Or perhaps J.R. Smith could take him out on the town and teach him what it's like to let non-basketball concerns really create a distraction.
Either way, it'd be entertaining.
If there's one thing we know about the Houston Rockets, it's that they're not afraid to take chances on high-risk, high-upside players who might never pan out.
The whole Royce White debacle proved that pretty convincingly.
Houston is set at the center position with Dwight Howard in town, but general manager Daryl Morey is all about collecting assets and exploiting market inefficiencies.
Right now, nobody wants Melo. But rest assured that if the Rockets grab him, they'll wait until there's a change in perception and then summarily flip him for something of value. It's what they do.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Like the Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder have shown a willingness to take on risky assets—particularly big men who have fallen far short of expectations.
Isn't that right, Hasheem Thabeet?
Because OKC has committed huge dollars to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, the team isn't going to be able to bring in any moderately priced help in any of the next few offseasons. So scraping the bottom of the barrel and hoping to get lucky is really the only way for the Thunder to improve their roster in the near future.
Plus, the environment in OKC is ideally suited to helping Melo get focused.
Do you know what happens to guys who loaf in Oklahoma City's practices? Russell Westbrook darts past them, Kevin Durant embarrasses them and Kendrick Perkins occasionally bodyslams them. There's no half-stepping in OKC.
If head coach Scott Brooks wanted to get especially serious about helping Melo reform, he could just lock him in a room with Perkins for an hour or so. If Melo managed to walk out alive, it might prove he's ready to toughen up after all.
Perhaps you've heard: The Philadelphia 76ers are not in the business of winning games this season. Already prepared to give heavy minutes to one untested Syracuse product in point guard Michael Carter-Williams, perhaps they'd also be interested in giving a job to another former Orangeman.
Signing Melo and slotting him into the rotation would fit right into the Sixers' master plan of piling up losses while allowing their young talent to learn on the fly.
Melo is probably as raw as any rookie, despite his year of "seasoning" in the D-League, so he could really benefit from a full campaign in the show.
At this point, Philly shouldn't overlook any young, inexpensive prospect. The worst thing that could happen is Melo hurts the team's on-court production, which, actually, isn't a bad thing at all for the tank-happy Sixers.
Many of the same reasons why the Sixers should be interested in Melo also apply to the Phoenix Suns.
Plus, rookie Alex Len has had two ankle surgeries in 2013, and incumbent center Marcin Gortat is an extremely likely trade candidate at some point this season.
In other words, the Suns could use a big body.
Sirens and flashing red lights should probably be going off right now, though, as the thought of pairing Melo with resident Phoenix knucklehead Michael Beasley could prove disastrous. Assuming the Suns don't waive B-Eazy (which, by the way, is not a particularly safe assumption), Phoenix's screw-up quota is full.
Still, new Suns GM Ryan McDonough should be burning up the phone lines trying to get Melo in for a workout.
It's not every day a team gets a chance to trade a player away and then get him back for nothing. The Boston Celtics could pull off that rare trick if they reached out to Melo on the waiver wire.
If Boston's concerned about saving money, there's good news in store: It won't have to spend bucks on locker placards, jerseys or workout gear for Melo. All that stuff is probably still in a storage closet somewhere.
The Celtics aren't interested in making a playoff push this season anyway, so maybe they could toss Melo into the rotation. Failing that, we know they could shuttle him down to the D-League again.
As long as bridges haven't been burned in the two weeks since he was last a Celtic, there's actually a decent chance that Melo fits best in the place he so recently left.