Carmelo Anthony Shoots Down Idea He Would Come off Bench: 'Out of the Question'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2018

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony (7) argues a foul in the first half during Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz Monday, April 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony is not keen on the idea of being a sixth man next season. 

"I'm not sacrificing no bench role," Anthony told reporters Saturday after the Oklahoma City Thunder were eliminated from the postseason, according to ESPN.com's Royce Young. "So that's out of the question."

Anthony added he's given up plenty. 

"I think everybody knows I've sacrificed damn near everything and was willing to sacrifice nearly everything for this situation to work out," he said, per The Oklahoman's Erik Horne

Thunder guard Raymond Felton weighed in on Anthony's comments, as Horne tweeted: "A lot of people don't understand, but it's a hit to you as a player. It was hard for me, being a starter 9-10 [years], and accepting you're going to be a backup. It was tough for me, I'm sure it's tough for him. As a friend, he handled it the way he should have."

Anthony, who waived his no-trade clause to facilitate a move from the New York Knicks to the Thunder, was hardly at ease during his first year in Oklahoma City. 

Appearing in 78 games, all of which were starts, the 10-time All-Star averaged a career-low 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting from the field, including 35.7 percent from three, as he accepted more of an off-ball role beside Russell Westbrook and Paul George

"It wasn't no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player and things like that," he said, according to the Norman Transcript's Fred Katz

"As far as being effective as that type of player, I don't think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgable and what I still can do as a basketball player." 

Anthony was also a defensive liability, a label he reinforced throughout OKC's six-game, first-round series loss to the Utah Jazz. In fact, Anthony was so shaky on that end—especially in the pick-and-roll—that he played just 32 fourth-quarter minutes. By comparison, George logged 64, Westbrook played 56, Jerami Grant saw 49 and Steven Adams racked up 48. 

On top of that, the Jazz outscored the Thunder by 14.5 points per 100 possessions, and OKC surrendered a defensive rating of 110.0 with Anthony on the floor in the postseason, according to NBA.com's stats database

And then there's this: When Anthony was off the floor, the Thunder outscored the Jazz by a team-best 13.5 points per 100 possessions and posted a stellar defensive rating of 98.2. 

Given those disparities, it's fair to wonder if Anthony is a fit in Oklahoma City. 

But with a $27.9 million player option, Carmelo could force the Thunder's hand and lock himself in for one more season before he hits the open market.