Carmelo Anthony has a player option for $23.5 million next season. Only one player — Kobe Bryant — made more than $23 million this year, and yet there’s a notion out there that an unhappy Anthony will opt out of his contract with the Knicks for greener pastures.
Despite this overwhelming bit of information, Boston talk radio has been buzzing this week with the possibility that Anthony will join Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love (that deal’s already done, right?) in Boston and form a new Big Three. In a well-researched post, CelticsLife.com details the embarrassing level of financial gymnastics it would take for the Celtics to end up with a lineup of Rondo, Love, Anthony, Larry Sanders, and the No. 17 pick with no salary cap room to wiggle with and no bench.
How did this all start, anyway? How does any of this start? In answering a question about Love Monday, Rondo tried to comment on the absurdity of answering speculative questions about another player.
“We could talk about Kevin [Love] all day or we can insert Carmelo [Anthony’s] name in there all day,” Rondo told reporters. “Nothing’s happened. We have a couple days left before the draft. Things might shake up around that time. You never know. It’s still a long summer until the beginning of training camp.”
In bringing up Anthony, Rondo was dropping the name of another superstar on par with Love. As innocuous as it may have been, though, the reference has fueled another round of speculation from Celtics fans rabid at any bit of news in this period of limbo. Rondo’s name drop, combined with the uncertainty of the offseason, has actually led some fans to lend credence to stories like this, in which “The Love deal is pretty much done” and “Melo is the primary target”, according to “an insider at RealGM.com.” Oh, and Tyson Chandler is coming to Boston, too.
It’s best to leave the acquiring of players to the guy with the power to actually do it, and I don’t put anything past Danny Ainge either way. But even if the Celtics could acquire Anthony, should they?
Anthony’s greatest strength is also his biggest target for criticism. He’s a volume scorer, finishing second in the league last season at 27.4 points per game. That doesn’t play well when you don’t win playoff games, but for whatever reason — call it Kendrick Perkins Syndrome — it really doesn’t play well in Boston. Even the usually measured Mike Gorman has said on at least two broadcasts that he “wouldn’t trade a bag of balls” for Anthony if given the chance. Wheya’s ya lunch pail, Melo?
That level of criticism has always struck me as a little unfair. To me, Anthony’s scoring should be viewed as a singular skill, like Avery Bradley’s lateral quickness or Rajon Rondo’s handle. Melo takes a lot of shots because he’s great at it, his ball-hogging mitigated by a player efficiency rating of 9th in the NBA last season. J.R. Smith, he is not.
In 12 NBA seasons Anthony has averaged just under 25 points. For perspective, Paul Pierce’s career average is 21.3. Pierce, too, had a reputation as a losing player who took too many shots, but playing with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen changed that. The Allen-for-Jeff-Green deal also looked bad before Garnett arrived. Scenery and context matter. We won’t know if Anthony is capable of a Pierce-like career revival until we see it.
What do you think? Is Anthony’s history as a me-first player enough to make you not want him on the Celtics? If everything fell into place, would you welcome him here? Curious to get people’s takes.