Desperate for help at power forward, the Portland Trail Blazers turned to an unlikely source. Carmelo Anthony was 35-years-old, had been out of the league for a year, and had been unceremoniously released after a very short stint with the Houston Rockets. But the Trail Blazers needed a spark on offense, and without many options available on the market, they decided to give Anthony a try on a non-guaranteed contract.
This gamble has worked out tremendously, with Anthony fitting right in with Portland’s offensive scheme and helping the team turn things around with four wins in its last five games heading into a Friday night matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. As a result of the two sides fitting so well together, Portland has upgraded Carmelo Anthony’s contract to fully guaranteed.
Carmelo Anthony’s performance to date
Carmelo Anthony had mixed results in his debut with the Thunder, scoring 10 points in 24 minutes of play against the New Orleans Pelicans. He scored 18 points in a 137-129 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and 11 points in a 110-104 road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Damian Lillard’s first game back from back spasms.
With Lillard back and Anthony having had a few games to shake the rust off, Portland’s offense started to click. The Trail Blazers reeled off three straight wins for the first time all season, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls twice. The team scored 120 points per game over that three-game stretch.
And it was Carmelo Anthony that was leading the way. The veteran went 27-for-47 (57.4%) from the floor including a 5-for-11 (45.5%) mark from three-point range and averaged 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Anthony’s efforts earned him Western Conference Player of the Week honors, his first time winning the award since 2014.
Anthony earns a fully guaranteed contract
Anthony followed up his player of the week performance with nine points on the road in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and 20 points at home win a win over the Sacramento Kings. He entered Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers averaging 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t obligated to decide on whether or not Carmelo Anthony’s contract would be fully guaranteed until January. But in an act of good faith and respect towards their new offensive weapon, the Trail Blazers made the decision on December 5 instead, assuring Anthony that a repeat of his short stay in Houston will not be happening this year.
The Trail Blazers are back on track
A 4-1 run can make quite a difference in the wide open Western Conference. At 5-12, Portland was sitting towards the bottom of the conference standings. But in improving to 9-13, the Trail Blazers jumped up to 10th place in the conference and are right back in the thick of things for a potential playoff spot.
Portland still has work to do. But thanks to Carmelo Anthony, the void at power forward has been filled, and the team is starting to play like a potential contender again.