When Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and Carmelo Anthony spoke on the phone Thursday morning, ahead of Anthony eventually signing with the team after a year away from the NBA, Olshey had a simple message for the veteran player.
"You need us," he reportedly said on the call, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. "And we need you."
Wojnarowski added: "Sources briefed on the call suggested that Olshey's message was this: Anthony needed a home where he could have a definitive role for a winning organization, needed the best players to respect and embrace him. And the Blazers needed someone with stature to walk in the door and shake up the locker room."
Anthony, 35, signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland and will be joining the team on Tuesday in New Orleans against the Pelicans.
The impetus for the move was pretty simple—the Blazers need a spark. The team is currently just 5-8 and it was unlikely it could have signed anyone or made a trade at this point in the season that would have shaken things up.
They also needed bodies, with Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol currently out injured.
In Anthony, the Blazers are getting a third scoring option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and one who can create his own shot and get buckets in isolation. For his career, Anthony has averaged 24 points a game, making his name as a master of the midrange.
But Anthony also hasn't played in a year, and his last two stints with Oklahoma City and Houston were short-lived as he failed to fully fit into the role those teams envisioned for him. In OKC, he never quite adjusted to life as the third option behind Russell Westbrook and Paul George. In Houston, there "was still Knicks scar tissue with Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, which left little benefit of the doubt after a slow start."
In 10 games with Houston last season, Anthony averaged just 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, shooting 40.5 percent from the field and 32.8 percent from three. He always seemed a tricky fit in that system, with James Harden dictating much of the offensive flow. So it's fair to question if Anthony will adjust to being the third fiddle behind Lillard and McCollum this time around.
If he does, he could help revitalize a Blazers team looking to make noise in the loaded Western Conference. If he doesn't, however, it likely will be his last stop in the NBA.