In Houston, the upside is joining his friend Chris Paul and league MVP James Harden; the downside could be a reunion with Coach Mike D’Antoni, who stepped down as Knicks coach partly because his relationship with Anthony was fraying in 2012. Anthony reportedly is in Houston on Monday, undergoing a physical.
If true, the decision to come off the bench marks a big change in Anthony’s thinking. This spring, he said he was “not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out of the question.” He emphasized then that he has “so much left in the tank.”
And last offseason with the Thunder, he laughed off the idea of a bench role — quite literally.
The guy had good reason to believe he belongs in the starting five. In 1,054 career games in the NBA, Anthony has come off the bench a total of zero times.
But a guy can mellow. Even Melo.
“I know how to play this game of basketball,” the 34-year-old, 10-time all-star told The Undefeated last month. “I’ve been playing it for a long time. When I feel like I’m ready to take that role [off the bench], then I’ll take that role. Only I know when it’s best for me to take that role. I’m not going to do that in a situation where I still know my capabilities and what I can do. And at the end of the day, the people who really matter know my capabilities and what I can still do.”
Apparently that recognition of the role has come for Anthony.
In Houston, he will join a team that won more games than any other in the league last season and pushed the Golden State Warriors to seven games in their playoff series. Winning a championship might change the narrative of his career.
“I think winning … rewrites everything,” he told The Undefeated. “It settles everything. I also look back at this past year. When we were winning, the story was written already. When we started losing, the story is written. It’s almost premeditated. I’m playing ball. I’m happy. I’m excited about what’s to come, wherever that may be.”