Ranking Best Landing Spots for NBA Veteran Carmelo Anthony
It's mid-September, and Carmelo Anthony is still a free agent.
In a lot of ways, that shouldn't be surprising. He's 38 years old, and his box plus/minus over the last five years is right around replacement level (in other words, around that of a bench player or end-of-bench player).
If you narrow the review to his last two seasons, though, there's reason to believe Melo can still be a helpful player, particularly on the offensive end.
His numbers since the start of 2020-21 signal a remarkable turnaround. After logging just 294 minutes in 2018-19, it seemed like Anthony was on the verge of falling out of the NBA altogether.
But over the course of his last two campaigns with the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers, Melo has put up 19.2 points and 2.9 threes per 75 possessions while shooting 39.1 percent from deep.
That kind of shooting from a 6'7" forward can really loosen things up for an offense, especially if an opposing big is assigned to defend him. And there are a few teams in the league that would benefit from Melo's stretch 4 game for 15-20 minutes.
4. Brooklyn Nets
Back in August, The New York Post's Brian Lewis reported that the Brooklyn Nets signing Anthony is a move Kevin Durant has "wanted them to make."
Not long after that, HoopsHype's Michael Scotto tossed some cold water on that idea, writing, "Despite separate reports about the Nets considering Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony as free-agent additions, Brooklyn doesn't have interest in adding either veteran currently."
Still, in spite of the shaky track record of active players molding their own teams' rosters, you can see where KD is coming from (assuming the initial report is true).
Brooklyn recently signed Markieff Morris, but the frontcourt still feels a little thin. As currently constructed, Ben Simmons and Durant might have to play some 5, and those lineups could use shooting at the 4.
Anthony can provide that in limited minutes, and given the recent durability of Durant, Simmons and Morris, Melo could find himself playing a bit more than expected.
3. New York Knicks
Earlier this offseason, ESPN's Bobby Marks called a reunion with the New York Knicks "Anthony's best option."
When you look at their current depth chart, it's easy to see why.
Julius Randle had a brutally negative impact on the Knicks' point differential last season, and he shot just 30.8 percent from three. Obi Toppin is clearly New York's future at that position, but he struggled from deep, too.
As for the Knicks' centers, Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein are certainly good, but they're not floor-spacers, either.
At least having the option to deploy a floor-spacer in the frontcourt could make life easier for slashers like RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Jalen Brunson.
2. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are another team that could use a little more three-point shooting.
In 2021-22, they finished 29th in the league in threes per 100 possessions. If they want to threaten for a top-10 offense, they may need to up their volume from there, and Melo can help.
Over the last two seasons, among players who logged at least as many minutes, only six match or exceed both of Anthony's marks for threes per possession and three-point percentage.
In lineups with DeMar DeRozan picking teams apart from the short- and mid-range, having that kind of outside shooting to pull defenses out to the perimeter could work wonders.
With few other options currently on the roster to play the 4, Anthony might be able to earn 15-20 minutes per game there.
1. Boston Celtics
Following reports that Danilo Gallinari had torn his ACL while competing at EuroBasket, the idea of Melo stepping in to fill that role started to gain steam on social media.
This week, The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn made it sound like a real possibility.
"This is starting to gain traction because Anthony may be the best shooting forward left on the market, and he has shown to be productive offensively despite his age," Washburn wrote. "Anthony wants an opportunity to win a championship, and this could be his best chance."
Melo may be four years older than Gallo, but his 2021-22 production was comparable.
Andy Bailey @AndrewDBailey
2021-22 Carmelo Anthony<br><br>18.4 PTS, 5.8 REB, 3.0 3P, 1.4 AST, 1.0 BLK, 0.9 STL per 75 poss, +1.3 rTS%, -0.6 EPM, -2.5 NetRtg (+2.0 swing)<br><br>2021-22 Danilo Gallinari<br><br>17.0 PTS, 6.8 REB, 2.5 3P, 2.2 AST, 0.3 BLK, 0.6 STL per 75 poss, +1.3 rTS%, -0.3 EPM, +2.8 NetRtg (+2.4 swing)
And if there's a team in the league that's well-equipped to cover for Anthony's defensive shortcomings, it's the Boston Celtics.
Gallinari was signed to improve spacing and perhaps spare Al Horford's legs from time to time. For at least a year, Anthony could potentially do the same.