Could this be the end of the line for Carmelo Anthony?

Image Credit: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers and F Carmelo Anthony have put talks of a possible contract on pause unless LA turns its season around and is back in playoff contention in the near future. This comes after Anthony was waived by the Chicago Bulls on February 8 and garnered interest from the Lakers in the ensuing days/weeks.

Since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are out on Anthony for the time being, what’s next for the 34-year-old free agent? Once a premier scorer in the league, Anthony struck fear into opposing defenses for the first 14 years of his career. Averaging nearly 24.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game over that time, there weren’t many players better at putting the ball in the basket than ‘Melo.

Which version of Carmelo Anthony was better: Nuggets or Knicks? Take your pick. The former Syracuse star posted averages of 24.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.1 APG on shooting splits of .459/.311/.803 in Denver. Those numbers remained shockingly similar (24.7/7.0/3.2 on .443/.369/.830) in the Big Apple. No matter how you slice it, prime Anthony was a force to be reckoned with.

Heading into the 2017-18 season, New York shipped Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick. The hope was that Anthony would transition seamlessly from being the alpha dog his whole career to being one of three pieces of a championship-caliber core in OKC. While Paul George and Russell Westbrook did just fine, Anthony’s numbers took a hit:

Carmelo AnthonyPPGRPGAPGFG%3P%
2016-1722.45.92.90.4330.359
2017-1816.25.81.30.4040.357

It’s expected for scoring numbers to drop a bit with fewer shots to go around. To lose 6.2 points over one offseason, though, is a bit startling. A decrease in already-low efficiency, along with nearly unplayable defense, was a recipe for disaster. The Thunder were ousted by the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.

After the OKC experiment failed, Anthony signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract with the Houston Rockets on August 13 of last year. Embracing a bench role for the first time in his career, this appeared to be nearly rock bottom for the veteran forward. What has happened since that day is closer to it.

Anthony would only appear in 10 games with Houston, starting two of them. Posting career-lows in PPG (13.4), APG (0.5), STL (0.4) and FT% (.682), the writing was on the wall. Once one of the most dominant forces in the league, Anthony turned into an inefficient, non-defending option off the bench in a matter of months. He was traded to the Chicago Bulls on January 22 & was subsequently waived on the first of the following month.

Aging is bound to happen to every NBA player. Father Time is undefeated. Primes aren’t forever. We know this. Some stars will age better than others – another known fact. Is the 20 PPG-scoring, jab-stepping, fadeaway-shooting Carmelo Anthony a thing of the past? Almost surely. But that doesn’t mean a new Carmelo Anthony can’t exist. While he watches his 2003 NBA Draft counterparts and good friends LeBron James and Dwyane Wade contribute at ages 34 and 37, respectively, there’s only one way to find out. Here’s to hoping Anthony latches on with a playoff team soon or gives it one last shot in 2019-20.


For more NBA content from Jordan, check out his Hoop Central author page or follow him on Twitter @TheBestFooteFWD.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics in this article were obtaine via basketball-reference, ESPN and/or NBA.com.

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