On Monday evening news broke that Carmelo Anthony had been traded to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are expected to waive Anthony and once he clears waivers he will be a free agent. There has been little to no interest shown by teams to acquire the 6x All-NBA, 10x All-Star, and future Hall of Famer small forward. At first glance, this seems perplexing for a player as accomplished and skilled as Carmelo Anthony.
Unless the Los Angeles Lakers sign him, and that seems more unlikely to happen day by day his NBA career is probably over. Anthony’s current predicament is no one's fault but his own. Last season he found himself at a career crossroads that many superstars before him have faced. They were all faced with two options, either revamp your game or retire.
In his last few seasons in New York Anthony started to decline as a player. When a player is declining it will be evident in one statistic. That statistic is free throw attempts. Anthony went from 7 attempts in 2013-2014 to 5.9 attempts the next season. By his last year of his tenure with the Knicks, it had dropped to 4.9 attempts per game. This year with the Rockets it has got all the way down to 2.2 attempts per game.
Sometimes life can present you with a once in a lifetime opportunity. When the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porziņģis Carmelo got his once in a lifetime opportunity. If he would’ve been more willing to mentor Porziņģis and defer to him more especially in Porziņģis second season he might still be a Knick. Instead, he would be involved in public back and forth with then-president Phil Jackson. To Anthony’s credit, he handled the situation with Jackson as a professional, but he had no desire to take a lesser role or take part in the rebuilding process in New York. Eventually, he would waive his no-trade clause and be traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Carmelo's arrival in Oklahoma City was greeted with excitement. He would be completing Thunder's version of the Big 3 joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Instead of OKC getting the proven scorer, perennial All-Star, All-NBA performer, they got a superstar that was past his prime. When there were talks of him coming off the bench for the teams benefit Anthony balked at the idea. Even though his skills as a player had clearly eroded he lacked the self-awareness and perspective to accept his new role. It was painfully obvious that the move would have helped the team dramatically, and he could have thrived in that role as a scoring anchor for the bench and unit. By the end of his run in OKC, he was out of the playoff rotation and the Thunder would lose to the Utah Jazz in the first round in six games.
Just like that, his time with the Thunder would be over, and after a short stint with the Rockets, he would be sent away from the team. Anthony now sits at home waiting for the Bulls to release him in hopes of joining a playoff/championship contender. Carmelo has enough in his tank offensively to be a positive contributor to a team. In hindsight, his best move would’ve been to revamp his career like other superstars before him.
Ray Allen who was an athletic explosive guard, that was also a great shooter. He revamped his game and became a 3point specialist who extended his career well past his prime and went on to become a two-time NBA champion. Winning championships with the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. He currently sits as the NBA's leader in 3 point makes.
Jason Kidd who at his peak was one of the most athletic, quickest point guards the game had ever seen. He could affect the game without scoring a single point, and on any given night he had the capability to record a triple-double. When he came into the league he could not shoot he would retire second All-Time in made 3 pointers. By revamping his game he played well past his prime and won an NBA championship. He won his only championship with the Dallas Mavericks.
Vince Carter At his peak was one of the best shooting guards in the league. ”Half man Half amazing” was his nickname. At his athletic peak, he was the best dunker the game has ever seen. His incredible body control and shotmaking made him a devastating force on the offensive end. He is currently in his 21st season in the NBA and is 41 years old. He revamped his career and became a spot-up shooter and someone who is seen as a leader and positive presence in the locker room.
For Carmelo Anthony, the chance to prove that he can revamp his game may have come and gone. For some players, they may not want to change their game, or they lack the self-awareness to do so. In his first press conference as a member of the Houston Rockets Melo was asked about how he felt about possibly coming off the bench. Anthony laughed at the idea of actually coming off the bench. Little did we know that was the last straw for Anthony’s career. So to all my aging superstars out, there be willing to revamp your career or find yourself forced to retire.