While the rumors suggesting Carmelo Anthony isn’t going to be a Houston Rockets player for much longer, former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Paul George defended him, suggesting other things have prevented Houston from living up to the expectations.
Paul George was asked by the media regarding his former teammate: Honestly, I think the reasons the Rockets aren’t succeeding aren’t because of Melo. It has nothing to do with Melo. For that to be the headline… that’s very inaccurate. Fact of the matter is, they’re just not playing great basketball right now as a group. They have great talent, great players, but it has nothing to do with Melo. He’s one of the best scorers, one of the best players… hall of famer, it’s more than team effort over there the reason why they’re not succeeding.
Anthony was out due to alleged illness, missing the Rockets’ 115-103 win over the Indiana Pacers, as last year’s Western Conference finalists improved to 5-7. Anthony is averaging 13.4 points in 10 games this season, playing 29.4 minutes, shooting 40.5% from the field and 32.8% from three, struggling to provide the catch-and-shoot qualities the Rockets need from everyone not named Harden, Paul and Capela. His last outing, a 98-80 loss to the Thunder, including a 1-11 shooting performance.
Accepting a new role coming off the bench after not being too happy about making that change during his short time in OKC (part of the reason they moved on from him), Anthony has also been disappointing on defense, which is less surprising. For a team that lost it’s two most meaningful perimeter defenders, the addition of Anthony hasn’t been able to plug those holes.
Anthony is in his 16th NBA season and with his 4th team. His career scoring average through 1064 games is 24 points, but last season and this season he’s well below that mark. The Rockets obviously have more issues than just Anthony, but he’s not the solution to them it seems. From one of the most important players on the USA Basketball team, Anthony finds himself almost as a persona non-grata on teams that have aspiration to win this season or in the near future, perhaps turning obsolete, with a skill set no longer appreciated alongside his obvious flaws.
George and Anthony were teammates last season on the Thunder. They made the playoffs, but couldn’t get past the first round, finishing a disappointing season in which much was expected of the George-Anthony-Westbrook trio.