Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman had an extensive discussion about why Carmelo Anthony is not in the NBA in at least a bench role during Thursday's episode of ESPN's First Take, and the former suggested there has been negative discussion about the Syracuse product in front offices around the league.
"I'm hearing that there's chitter-chatter going on behind Melo's back," Smith said. "I don't know from who, but it's not players. It's coaches, it's GMs. And a lot of people don't realize that sometimes these coaches and GMs have the same reps as one another. So you say, one person could say something, and it can circulate because that clique is intact and they don't even know whether it's true or not. They're just going on word of mouth."
Kellerman then said, "It doesn't seem like Carmelo deserves to have his reputation smeared behind the scenes. If that's what's keeping him out of the league it doesn't appear to me to be fair."
Smith responded to that suggestion by simply saying, "Right."
Anthony hasn't played since he appeared in 10 games for the Houston Rockets last season, and he told Smith earlier this month that he "didn't like how that went down" when discussing his exit from the team.
"He came in and basically said, 'Look, your services are no longer needed,'" Anthony said of his conversation with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. "I was like, 'What? Hold up. What the hell are you talking about? ... You telling me I can't make a 9-, 10-man rotation on this team?'"
With that as a backdrop, Smith hinted the Rockets may have said something negative about Anthony that is causing reservations from the Portland Trail Blazers' perspective during Thursday's show:
"From what I'm hearing, Terry Stotts has some reservations about Melo being in Portland. I don't know whether that's finite or not, but he does have some reservations, along with others. I gotta wonder if there's anything at all that Mike D'Antoni is saying about Carmelo Anthony and whether or not that's having an impact. Or Daryl Morey after what Melo said about how things transpired in his exit from Houston. You just never know."
Discussion about Anthony's lack of a role in the NBA comes after former Sacramento Kings and current BIG3 player Royce White criticized LeBron James and others for not helping the 10-time All-Star find a spot in the league (contains profanity NSFW):
Anthony is a six-time All-NBA selection, a scoring champion and a future Hall of Famer, but he is also 35 years old and not particularly well-suited for today's game.
The NBA has shifted toward an efficiency based attack that emphasizes three-point shooting, ball movement and drive-and-kicks, and Anthony was best known as an isolation scorer who was impressive from mid-range.
Still, it is difficult to imagine there isn't a place for someone with Anthony's resume in at least a reserve role.
White's comments and James' friendship have spawned speculation about the Los Angeles Lakers potentially signing Anthony, but that has not been the case to this point. To hear Smith tell it, Anthony is not being helped by behind-the-scenes discussions about his future.