Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly signed Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed contract.
It's an interesting move by the Blazers, who are off to a 4-8 start this season. After a run to the Conference Finals, many picked them to return to the playoffs this season even though they had an entirely new roster. It's early, but a lot has to change between now and the playoffs for Portland to finish with one of the eight-best records in the Western Conference.
With all of that in mind, is Anthony the player who can get this team back on track? Or is this a desperation move?
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Am I allowed to say that it can both get this team back on track but it is also a desperation move?
Rafferty: Go on...
Irving: I like the move. I think it's a desperation move. But I like the move.
This team is struggling right now. Their roster is completely different than the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last season and I think upper management thought they could skate by surrounding Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum with any random players.
It didn't take long for them to figure out that's not the case and I think bringing in Melo gives this roster some new energy. This is a guy who has been looking for an opportunity to play for over a year. He's coming in to prove himself and change the narrative of the back-end of his career.
Rafferty: I do agree with you that Anthony brings some new energy. He's an established player in this league and while he's nowhere near the player he once was, it appears as though the players on this team - Lillard, most notably - have a lot of respect for him. He also fills a huge need as a scorer at the power forward position. It would be different if they were at full strength, but the Blazers are going to be without Zach Collins for several more months. I'm assuming Anthony will fill a lot of those minutes.
In saying that, I'm not sure it's going to work out. Anthony is basically in the same situation he was in with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder - a role player who primary shoots 3s on a team built around a superstar - and neither of those opportunities really worked out for him. Plus, even if he does figure it out on offense and helps this team on that end of the court, he's certainly not going to help them defensively, which is a problem considering the Blazers already rank 19th in defensive efficiency.
It's ironic that his debut with the Blazers could come against the Rockets considering it was James Harden who ran Anthony off the court the last time he was in the playoffs.
Irving: I love that his debut could come against the Rockets, though. I don't love the potential switching matchups with Harden, but I love the chance at karma and revenge.
Like you said, it really is a similar situation than Houston last season. But the Rockets cut the cord on Anthony quick, and I don't feel as though their struggles with Melo followed by their success without Melo were directly tied to one another.
Don't get me wrong - he wasn't great in Houston and I know he's not going to help the Blazers' defensively and that's one of their biggest issues. But I do believe he adds a scoring presence that worries teams more than Rodney Hood or Anfernee Simons - Portland's fourth and fifth leading scorers, respectively.
Is he going to turn this team into a title contender? No, probably not. But I do think he can give them a spark to turn things around early on here.
Rafferty: I do wonder how much he still has left in the tank. In the 88 games he played with the Thunder and Rockets, he averaged 15.9 points on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.3 percent from the 3-point line. That's ... not great. And if that's the version of Anthony the Blazers get, I'm not sure how much of a difference it actually makes.
And we haven't even brought up the fact that he hasn't been on an NBA court in over a year and that he's now 35-years-old.
Irving: Can you let me live in my dream world where Melo's going to shoot 100 percent from midrange just like he does in the Instagram workout videos?
Rafferty: Ha! If he does that, he can make a difference.
Irving: All jokes aside though, I do agree with you there. He's not all of a sudden going to become this efficient scorer that fills that major need for Portland and turns them from 4-8 to a Western Conference Finals-bound team. At 35-years-old, I question how many minutes they'll even be able to play him per game.
But I'll tell you this much - he'll draw attention from opposing defences, he'll have nights where he gives them a scoring surge that makes a difference in the outcome and he's going to play with a chip on his shoulder.
This is it for Melo. This is his last chance to prove that he has what it takes to make an impact on an NBA floor.
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