Carmelo Anthony Says He'll Accept Bench Role with Blazers: 'We'll Make It Work'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma (0) and LeBron James, center, greet Portland Trail Blazers' Carmelo Anthony (00) after an NBA basketball first round playoff game Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 131-122 to win the series 4-1. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony once laughed at the suggestion of coming off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder

These days, however, Anthony is far more open to the idea with the Portland Trail Blazers, as he told reporters Friday:

In 2017, Anthony responded to a reporter asking him if he'd come off the bench by replying: "Who me? I don't know where that started where that came from. Hey P [Paul George], they said I gotta come off the bench."

In July 2018, while a free agent, he again dismissed the idea of a bench role.

"I know how to play this game of basketball," he told Jemele Hill. "I've been playing it for a long time. When I feel like I'm ready to take that role, then I'll take that role. Only I know when it's best for me to take that role. I'm not going to do that in a situation where I still know my capabilities and what I can do."

And after he signed with the Rockets, he still seemed resigned to being a starter.

"I haven't had that conversation with anybody yet," he told reporters in Sept. 2019. "I'm very clear on what my role is."

Anthony did end up coming off the bench for eight games that season. It didn't go well, and he played just 10 games total for Houston and didn't see the court for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign. 

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All of this to say, Anthony sung a different tune on Friday than we've heard in the past, especially considering he started all 58 games for the Blazers last season and played well, averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three. 

But with newly acquired Robert Covington now the starter at power forward, which is Anthony's best position at this point in his career—and Derrick Jones Jr. starting at the 3, with wing depth in Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood—a sixth man role seems ideal for Anthony.

The fact that Anthony appears open to the role is excellent news for the Blazers.