NBA

Did Chauncey Billups Just Put Carmelo Anthony in His Place?

Chauncey Billups recently took to SiriusXM NBA Radio to discuss Carmelo Anthony‘s future in the NBA. It wasn’t that long ago that Anthony was still a perennial all-star, but now he is a man without a team.

Billups had some thoughts on this, and he didn’t mince words when he shared them on the air. He stated that while Melo was not a difficult guy to work with, he has some issues that he must overcome if he wants to return.

“Melo was, like, a good teammate every day…”

Billups has firsthand knowledge of Carmelo Anthony’s game. He was his teammate for almost two seasons in Denver and New York. Billups never criticized Anthony for his mindset going in, claiming that Anthony was constantly practicing and working hard to reach the top of his game. While Billups has criticisms of his mindset, this is an important thing to remember.

As players get older, they often struggle with figuring out their next role. Vince Carter and Tim Duncan did so rather gracefully, while players like Kobe and Allen Iverson struggled to lead teams in the latter parts of their careers. Being a bad teammate and being resistant to change should not be confused with one another, but it doesn’t absolve Anthony either. 

“Scoring 30 meant too much to Melo…”

Carmelo Anthony was, at one time, one of the greatest scorers the NBA had ever seen. He could go off for 30 at will, and could sometimes do so in a single quarter. When his shot was on, he could score anywhere from right beside the basket, to well beyond the three-point line. In a league where individual stars began to rely on teammates more and more, however, this could be a problem.

By the time that Anthony got to Oklahoma City, he was the third option, although he still had a knack for shooting shots as though he were the alpha dog. Had he taken a step back and embraced this role, it seems as though his talent may have allowed him to still get good looks, but in a role more fitting of his current state.

“He hasn’t mentally taken that step back to say, ‘Okay, I’ll come in and play against back-ups…'”

Guys like Manu Ginobili made careers with this sacrifice, and if Carmelo Anthony had done this, he may still be on a roster. By playing like he did in New York, despite playing on much different rosters, taking the heroic shots that may or may not go in inhibited Anthony’s teams from playing the team ball that the league has shifted toward. In many ways, the acceptance of his place on the bench would fight this. 

Very few players get to play their final chapter on their terms. Even Dwyane Wade took a step back amidst his farewell tour, and even when Dirk Nowitzki started, his minutes were more like that of a bench player.

Anthony is younger than these two, and while he has had injuries, his health appears to be better than theirs was. So, why is he out of the league right now?

“He’s not there yet.”

Perhaps Carmelo will come to terms with the fact that he is no longer the superstar he once was. Perhaps he will sign with a new team, redefine his role and narrative, and have a second wind as a role player.

If he does not do that, his playing days are likely over. Many players struggle with age as it pertains to their careers, but many of the best found a way to make the best of it and utilize their strengths as they grew older. Will Carmelo Anthony?