I realize that he has a lot of critics around these parts, but I consider The BS Report with ESPN’s Bill Simmons a can’t-miss podcast. This is especially true when he has my favorite NBA writer, Zach Lowe, on the show with him to talk hoops. Besides bringing up how all things Boston sports can be improved, Bill does tend to be more of a fan when it comes to professional basketball than an analyst. This is what keeps me coming back to the show. But besides that, these are guys who hear things through multiple sources (real ones, not the Chris Broussard types) around the league. So when they brought up that everyone’s favorite general manager made an inquiry with the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony at the deadline, I was intrigued, but shook it off.
Knowing what we do about Daryl Morey, Anthony doesn’t seem to be the type of player that he’d go after. However, over the years we have learned more than once that, as my favorite professional wrestler of all-time once declared, the only thing that’s for sure about Daryl Morey is that nothing’s for sure.
Carmelo Anthony, while one of the best pure scorers in the league, would be a questionable fit both on the floor and in the methods of Morey. On the court, Melo likes to dominate the ball and Houston already has that guy. The analytical methods of the Rockets GM dictates that not only will Melo be on the wrong side of 30 once free agency opens up, but this is a guy who seems to be the opposite of the kind of player he has always went after.
But there are two sides to this thought; didn’t we say mostly the same things about Dwight Howard? In being honest with yourselves, there is a large majority of Rockets fans that wanted no part of Dwight in Houston at this time last season. I know this because I was one of them. I believed the media, I believed the scorned fans. Now, in hindsight, the criticism the guy gets is simply convoluted and just plain wrong. Could the myths about Melo be somewhat the same?
I was out with some folks in the Houston media this past weekend and I thought I’d gauge their thoughts on the Melo to Houston rumors that really took off after Adrian Wojnarowski, the gospel of NBA rumors, wrote about how the Rockets will not only push for him in the offseason, but that they’re confident they could make the necessary moves to fit his salary in. When Woj reports it; it’s legit. To put it simply, the reactions were varied greatly. One side was quite adamant that it was a horrible move (with a few colorful adjectives thrown in) while the other had a similar opinion to my own in that we aren’t really to the point of being above adding a third star player, regardless of who it is.
My biggest concern is if Anthony would buy in here. This team already has its lead dog in the person of James Harden. If Melo can accept his role as a spot up shooter with some minutes playing stretch four, they could be very deadly. It’s quite exciting to think about, really. When this team is sputtering on offense and they just start settling for a barrage of three’s, a guy like Melo sure could help remedy that. But I’m not convinced he’s ready to be Robin to James Harden’s Batman. Just look at how he reacted during Linsanity in New York. I’m supposed to believe just two years later he’s ready to take a backseat because he wants to win? That’s a tough sell.
The main argument I hear against Melo from a salary and roster management standpoint is that it hurts the Rockets flexibility going forward in regards to landing prized free agent Kevin Love in 2015. While the idea of a Love/Howard frontcourt is simply mind shattering, if this team is put together to try and contend for a title now, I don’t believe Daryl Morey is planning to wait for a year and a half at a chance to sway a guy that most think is a stone cold lock to be a Laker in 2015.
In the end, no, it isn’t a move I’d greatly pursue. However, I’m certainly not above the team trying to acquire a third star player. It’s clear at this point, as currently constructed, they’re in the second tier of teams in the western conference. You can argue that until you’re blue in the face, but their record against the big dogs of the league is lackluster. Bring up being 3-0 against a Spurs team that was struggling with health all you want, but the Clippers and Thunder would have no problems vanquishing this team in a seven game series, in my opinion.
If you think Daryl Morey has a “well, my work here is done” attitude with this roster, you haven’t been paying attention. He’ll be active in free agency this summer and unlike in years past, this team has never been more attractive for another star player to want to be a part of. I still believe Phil Jackson will sell Melo on staying in New York and, if not, Chicago is a much better fit. But I expect another recruiting trip from the Rockets brass with Harden and Howard in tow could make the decision quite tough on him.