Carmelo Anthony must know he should come off bench

Carmelo Anthony may be headed for a winning situation, but he apparently isn’t ready to accept a lesser role.

By all accounts, including his own now, Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder were a poor fit for each other. The 10-time All-Star was not suited to be a third wheel, and he set career-lows across the board. But the Thunder traded him to the Atlanta Hawks, and he was waived, so Anthony will be able to continue his career elsewhere and pick his new team.

All signs point to Anthony signing with the Houston Rockets, where he’ll be the third wheel to James Harden and Chris Paul. A bench role is even a possibility, as Anthony’s scoring acumen and lack of defensive effort would seem to make him an ideal sixth man.

High-level athletes are often the last to know they don’t have it anymore, at times to their detriment. Anthony was outspoken from the start about not coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, and he’s doubling down now.

In a conversation with Jemele Hill of The Undefeated, here’s what Anthony had to say when the topic of coming off the bench came up.

I know how to play this game of basketball,””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.

Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni coached Anthony for three-and-a-half seasons with the New York Knicks, and suffice to say the two have a rocky history. D’Antoni has adapted his offense since then though, to fit the talents of iso-heavy players like Harden and Paul. Anthony had a usage rate between 29 and 36 in 13 straight seasons (30-plus percent 10 times), between his rookie year and last year, so his noted ball dominance may fit better with D’Antoni now than it did in New York.

But guards are still the fulcrum of D’Antoni’s offense, not ball-dominant forwards who don’t pass the ball. So Anthony will have to fully embrace some sort of reduced role, if not in minutes than surely in touches, whether he likes it or not.

Next: 5 biggest winners of the Kawhi Leonard trade

Anthony is right that only he knows when it’s best for him to embrace coming off the bench. But if he doesn’t see that time is now, he’ll upset the chemistry in Houston far more than help the Rockets unseat the Golden State Warriors.

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