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Dwyane Wade: Rockets Trying to Make Carmelo Anthony 'Fall Guy' for Struggles

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30:  Dwayne Wade #3 of the Miami Heat reacts against the Charlotte Hornets during their game at Spectrum Center on October 30, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade accused the Houston Rockets of scapegoating Carmelo Anthony as it looks likely Anthony is on his way out.

Wade tweeted Sunday releasing Anthony would be "the easy way out" and that he'd be "the fall guy" after the Rockets' 4-7 start:

DWade @DwyaneWade

Trying to make my guy @carmeloanthony the fall guy huh!? Man y’all need to stop. That’s the easy way out instead of addressing what the real problem.

The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Sunday that "Anthony has been informed that his brief time with the team will soon be ending."

Speaking to reporters, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey praised Anthony's professionalism and said that he expected the 10-time All-Star to return to the rotation when he's healthy enough to play, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon.

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

Daryl Morey says Melo is really sick. “I would expect him to be playing when he’s healthy.” https://t.co/kDjy6jgZkz

To some extent, Wade has a point.

A team knows what it's getting with Anthony by now. Even in his prime, he wasn't the most efficient shooter and a negligible defender. Since then, he hasn't adapted his game to account for both his declining skill set and the increased emphasis on three-point shooting.

Anthony averaged 16.2 points and shot 40.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range in his one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year.

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He hasn't been much worse with Houston since joining the team in the offseason. Through his first 10 games, he averaged 13.4 points while hitting 40.5 percent of his field-goal attempts and 32.8 percent of his three-point opportunities.

The problem for the Rockets is that Anthony essentially replaced Trevor Ariza without actually filling the void Ariza left. Ariza's perimeter defending and three-point shooting helped Houston reach the Western Conference Finals in 2018. In Anthony, the team signed a player who's almost an exact contrast to Ariza.

As a result, the Rockets have a minus-9.0 net rating when Anthony is on the floor, per NBA.com. Their net rating with Anthony on the bench is minus-0.2.

To Wade's argument, Houston might be better off after releasing Anthony, but his departure wouldn't make all of the team's issues go away.

The Rockets are 27th in offensive rating (103.1) and 29th in effective field-goal percentage (.488), per NBA.com. Opponents are also shooting 47.1 percent from the field (23rd) and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc (13th).

While he deserves some share of the blame for those numbers, Anthony isn't the sole reason for Houston's underwhelming performance.

Jettisoning Anthony would also mean giving more playing time to James Ennis at small forward, which isn't a great strategy for a team that was hopeful of challenging the Golden State Warriors.

If nothing else, the Rockets' situation illustrates how Morey is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to building a supporting cast around James Harden and Chris Paul when they're combining to make $66 million this season.

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