Carmelo Anthony is still a star in New York City. Trust me, the lifetime Knicks fan and native Manhattanite I sit next to at work won’t shut up about him and how unfair it is he hasn’t signed with an NBA team yet.
“How the hell is Michael Beasley on an NBA team and not Melo,” is a common theme around these parts.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving appear to agree with this refrain, as Frank Isola of The Athletic reports the star duo are “pushing” the Nets to sign Anthony. Given Wilson Chandler’s 25-game suspension, a forward signing of some kind would certainly make sense for Brooklyn. From Isola’s most recent column:
"The Brooklyn Nets remain interested in potentially signing Anthony, who recently trained with a group of their players in Los Angeles, including Kyrie Irving. In fact, one source told The Athletic that Irving and Kevin Durant, who both joined the Nets in July, are “pushing” the club to sign Anthony."
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Carmelo Anthony returning to New York to play with the Nets would be a horrible decision for Brooklyn. Yes, a lot of that statement has to do with the fact that Melo is no longer a good player; stripped of his athletic ability to create space in the mid-range game, he’s now a pull-up shooter at best, and shooting (34.7 percent career average from deep) has never been his strong suit. And despite his eloquent soliloquy on ESPN explaining why he will be a good teammate for the next franchise that signs him (were his fingers crossed behind his back?), the truth is that hasn’t been his strong suit either.
But really, this comes down to one thing: sharing the spotlight. Melo sucks at it (RE: Jeremy Lin). Kyrie Irving sucks at it (RE: LeBron James and the Boston Celtics). And Kevin Durant, okay, KD was good at it, but didn’t he come to Brooklyn to be the lone alpha?
While Anthony will never challenge KD or Kyrie in terms of ability at this point in his career, he will challenge them for press coverage, and we saw how well that ended for all three of these players (yes, even Durant felt under-appreciated in Golden State) the last time they faced that challenge. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the two scenarios that will play out of the Nets sign Melo.
1. Melo signs with the Nets and plays well.
2. Melo signs with the Nets and plays bad.
In the first scenario, the New York tabloids, which love a good comeback story, would cover Melo like the second coming of Linsanity, hailing him for his ability and selflessness and giving him the lion’s share of the credit (at least with Durant out) for the Nets’ success.
In the second scenario, the New York tabloids, which love lighting a match and watching things burn, would cover Melo like the second coming of Anthony Weiner, calling him out for all of his faults and blaming him for the Nets failures.
You tell me which scenario you would rather.
Carmelo Anthony might still have some basketball in him. He might work for a team like the Warriors; an established team with established roles and established expectations. Where he won’t work is in New York, where the Nets are trying to build something from scratch and compete against the best in the league. No, that won’t work at all, no matter how much the NYC columnists salivate over the possibility.