Report: Carmelo Anthony 'Was the Scapegoat,' Says Anonymous Rockets Source

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2018, file photo, Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony reacts during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York. The Rockets won 119-111. The addition of Anthony to the Rockets’ roster produced more thorns than fruit and now he is out. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

A source close to the Houston Rockets believes Carmelo Anthony unfairly took much of the blame for the team's struggles early last season.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the source suggested Melo took the heat for something that wasn't entirely his fault: "A lot of the blame was put on Carmelo, but he really should have thrived with the offense and system if the season started properly health-wise. Melo was the scapegoat."

Houston signed Anthony to be an offensive catalyst off the bench, but he was thrust into a bigger role early in the 2018-19 campaign when James Harden, PJ Tucker and others were nursing injuries.

In 10 games (two starts), Melo averaged a career-low 13.4 points on 40.5 percent shooting from the field and 32.8 percent shooting from three. At that point, the Rockets parted ways with the future Hall of Famer.

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Another source close to the Rockets praised how Carmelo conducted himself in Houston despite his short and rocky tenure: "He was amazing here, a real teammate and great with the coaches. It's unfortunate what happened."

Anthony went unsigned following his departure from the Rockets, and he is still a free agent. At 35, Melo's NBA career could be over.

The 10-time All-Star isn't giving up hope, though, as former New York Knicks trainer Chris Brickley told The Breakfast Club (h/t Dani Mohr of the New York Post) that Anthony wants a farewell season: "I think teams are afraid of, 'I want to be a starter,' or 'I want this.' That's not the case, though. Melo just wants to have a final season, have a farewell season, do what D-Wade did. Do the jersey swap. He had a great career, he's a Hall of Famer. So hopefully that can happen."

While Anthony has enjoyed a noteworthy career that included a scoring title and three Olympic gold medals, he has yet to play in the NBA Finals and has had little playoff success in general. Catching on with a contending team to be a bench scorer would be an ideal situation, but it is unclear how much interest there is.

Melo has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers since last season thanks to his friendship with LeBron James. L.A. is poised to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference next season with LeBron and Anthony Davis leading the way, and the Lakers have just one roster spot remaining and have given no indication they plan to sign Anthony.

Carmelo's opportunity to play a smaller role for a winning team failed miserably in Houston, but as a player who averaged 24 points per game over his 16-year NBA career, he could still have some value in the right situation.

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