Kim Klement/Associated Press
Carmelo Anthony’s teammates seemed to love having him in Portland. It appears the feeling was mutual.
Anthony told reporters he thinks he “found a home” with the Blazers after Portland was eliminated from the playoffs Saturday night.
“I pray that it can be Portland; I think I found a home in Portland,” Anthony said after the Blazers’ 131-122 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “…I think you [media members] saw it, why this is a good fit for me. Whenever you find a situation that’s comfortable and allows you to be who you are, you want to stay in that situation. There’s no need to try different things when something is working.”
Anthony spent a calendar year out of basketball following a disappointing 10-game stint with the Houston Rockets in 2018-19, landing in Portland last November amid a rash of injuries. The partnership wound up being ideal for both parties, with Melo proving he’s still capable of occasional moments of brilliance at age 36.
Anthony concluded his first season in Portland with a vintage 27-point, seven-rebound performance as he and CJ McCollum attempted to keep the Blazers’ season alive without Damian Lillard. Melo averaged 15.2 points and 5.0 rebounds for the series, getting back in a rhythm over the final three games after going 4-of-17 from the field in Games 1 and 2.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Anthony and LeBron James were just the third pair of opposing players age 35 or older to score 25 points or more in the same playoff game in NBA history.
Anthony’s future in Portland may come down to his willingness to accept another veteran’s minimum contract. The Blazers would have already been capped out going into next season pre-pandemic. With the cap likely to decrease or stay the same, Portland is only going to have minimum contracts and probably the mid-level exception to play with. Handing Anthony the mid-level would be a misallocation of resources, especially in an offseason where some free agents might come on the cheap for a short-term deal.
With more than $250 million in career earnings, Melo may have to decide whether a token extra $3 million or so (likely via a taxpayer mid-level on a playoff team) is worth leaving a place where he was embraced.