Carmelo Anthony Discusses Rockets Release, Joining Knicks, Future, More

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 2, 2019

Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony, left, drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls forward Justin Holiday during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony left nothing on the table in a lengthy interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's First Take on Friday. He covered a wide range of topics, including his departure from the Houston Rockets, his choice of the New York Knicks over the Chicago Bulls in free agency, his future plans and more.

Houston parted ways with the 10-time All-Star after just 10 games last season. Anthony averaged 13.4 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting and 5.4 rebounds in Houston. He is currently a free agent.

The 16-year veteran expressed displeasure about the end of his Rockets tenure, specifically citing Houston president of basketball operations and general manager Daryl Morey:

First Take @FirstTake

"I didn't like how that went down." —Carmelo Anthony talks about getting released from the Rockets. https://t.co/OxwyUBl2wd

"I didn't like how that went down," Anthony said.

The forward said the Rockets expressed interest in him for three to four years and told the ex-Syracuse star that he was a missing piece.

Anthony said his Rockets era started well from his standpoint and that the news of his impending departure came at a shock.

"Your services are no longer needed," Morey allegedly told Anthony in San Antonio prior to a Rockets road game against the Spurs.

"I just didn't understand where that come from," Anthony also noted.

The big three of James Harden, Chris Paul and Anthony had become two. The latter player spoke about his discussions with the remaining Rockets after Morey gave him the news:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Carmelo tells @stephenasmith about his conversation with Chris Paul and James Harden after his time in Houston. (via @FirstTake) https://t.co/tFes8csREc

Smith asked whether Anthony thought Paul and Harden knew about the decision before it went down. Anthony said no and said he had a "heart-to-heart" in his San Antonio hotel room with Paul, who confirmed that notion.

As for Harden, Smith wondered whether Anthony would still be a Rocket if Harden vouched for him harder behind the scenes given his MVP status. Anthony said he couldn't "make that assumption" regarding that sentiment.

The interview also covered past and future topics, with a focus on Anthony's 2014 free agency and choosing to stay with the New York Knicks over the Chicago Bulls:

First Take @FirstTake

"I was going to Chicago." —Carmelo Anthony responding to @stephenasmith on the perception that Melo chose money over winning https://t.co/FokMZdD3qA

Smith painted the question with context regarding a perceived notion that Anthony chose money over winning (the Knicks were coming off a 37-45 season, while the Bulls were 48-34 and earned the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed).

Anthony said he was all set to join the Bulls but heard "behind the scenes" that people might be leaving. He took the Knicks meeting last and asked the organization what it was willing to do to compete and win a championship.

"A lot of things were promised," Anthony said. Eventually, he said, he felt like he belonged in New York and chose to stay.

As far as where Anthony goes from here, he made it abundantly clear that he wants to play and win a title, and he is willing to be a reserve to do so:

ESPN @espn

"I felt like the game didn’t love me back at that point. … Now, I love the game too much to be away from it." –Carmelo Anthony on his free agency (via @FirstTake) https://t.co/rCXr0ZBu5z

Anthony insisted he can still play. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Melo just wants answers https://t.co/jLnIlwdzqh

He wondered whether teams thought he was willing to take a bench role, to which he emphatically declared that he would. 

First Take @FirstTake

"There's too many people speaking on my name, and I don't like that." –Carmelo Anthony on people saying he's not willing to play off the bench https://t.co/VALEQXW0sK

Anthony certainly let everything out in the wide-ranging interview. He closed by saying his representatives have had conversations with numerous teams, including LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers.

The question is whether teams take notice and offer him a job.