Coach Jim Boeheim has been on the bench during the brightest moments of Carmelo Anthony’s career. Boeheim watched Melo lead Syracuse University to a National Title. Boeheim watched Melo carry a big load as the United States rolled to Olympic gold medals.
Boeheim believes the highly talented, and just highly embattled, Carmelo can deliver at least one more bright moment.
Anthony is currently rumored to be headed to the Rockets, where he would have to find a way to share the ball with James Harden and Chris Paul. Anthony is probably done with the dysfunctional Knicks, and he almost certainly requires playing with a Finals team to avoid being seen in basketball history as an NBA underachiever.
Boeheim, Syracuse University’s coach since 1976, believes this exit is possible.
“He can still be a really good player for a really good team,” Boeheim told me in late June.
As proof, Boeheim points to Carmelo’s work in the Olympics. Anthony, during his days with the Nuggets and Knicks, has dominated the ball.
But when playing in the Olympics beside such transcendent stars – and unrepentant ball hogs - as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, Anthony never struggled to fit in. He became more generous. He didn’t cause trouble, at least after his troubles at the 2004 Games. He was a key player on three gold medal teams.
I keep hearing about the Knicks dumping Carmelo’s contract. This makes little sense.
Carmelo will earn $26 million in 2017-18, or about $2 million less than incoming Denver Nugget Paul Millsap and about $4 million more than outgoing Denver Nugget Danilo Gallinari. You could argue, and I would, that Carmelo is the most valuable player of the three.
Anthony averaged 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the Knicks last season, and he collected those numbers while often facing the opposing team’s best defender.
Is Carmelo the piece to push the Rockets past the Warriors in the West?
Um, probably not. But he is a valuable piece.
His risks are overstated. His salary is reasonable when placed in the context of the NBA in 2017.
And his talent and value are, strangely enough, underrated.