CJ McCollum: Carmelo Anthony's Journey to Blazers Was a 'Blessing in Disguise'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2019

Portland Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony went through some uncertain times over the past year before finally signing with the Portland Trail Blazers, but teammate CJ McCollum believes Melo's winding path to Portland was a positive.

Appearing on Tuesday's episode of Posted Up with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, McCollum said he believes the year away from basketball was a good thing for Anthony:

"I said, 'You going to those teams is a blessing in disguise for you.' Because his understanding and appreciation for the game changed, he had time to be with his family, he got invaluable time with his son. I talk about the importance of time. When we play we're gone all the time, and when you're present, you're not present. ... He had a full year to work out and basically spend time with his kid and kind of reflect on life. And I think his appreciation for the game shifted, it changed. The way he plays now you can see he's excited about the game, he's happy, he's playing with energy, he has a clear focus and understanding of who he is. And when you reach that point to where you almost want to quit, it tests you mentally."

Melo largely struggled in 2017-18 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and lasted just 10 games with the Houston Rockets last season before they shut him down and eventually traded him.

After going unsigned throughout last season and the offseason, Anthony finally signed with the Blazers in November, and he has made a significant impact.

In 10 games for the Blazers so far this season, the 35-year-old Anthony is averaging 15.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. He was also named Western Conference Player of the Week in early December, which quickly validated Portland's decision to sign him.

The Blazers are still struggling as a team this season, as they are 4-6 with Anthony and 9-15 overall, but he has given them a much-needed third scoring option in support of McCollum and Damian Lillard.

Signing Anthony looks even more vital now than it did at the time. Rodney Hood has since suffered a torn ACL, meaning Melo will be leaned on even more heavily to produce on offense as the season progresses.

The 10-time All-Star and one-time NBA scoring champion clearly isn't the same player he once was with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, but he can still score with the best of them when he finds his rhythm.

Unlike Houston, Portland seems like a great fit for Melo, as his teammates and the fanbase have welcomed him with open arms and treated him like a significant part of the team.

Anthony and the Blazers are 2.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but given the amount of talent on the team, they have a solid chance of making a run and finding their way into the playoffs.

After reaching the Western Conference Finals last season, the new-look Blazers with a motivated Melo in tow could be a tough out even for top teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.