All things considered, Carmelo Anthony has looked pretty darn good in his return to the NBA. After almost exactly a calendar year out of the league, Anthony is averaging 16 points and 5.3 rebounds, on 39 percent shooting from 3-point range -- in four games back with the Trail Blazers.
Even that 39 percent number is somewhat deceiving. Throw out one 0-for-8 performance from Melo, and he's hitting 60 percent of his triples. He can clearly still score. And shoot. On Monday he had, posting 25 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-20 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3. He was a plus-19 in 30 minutes as Portland snapped a four-game skid.
Anthony is on a non-guaranteed deal that will pay him $2.15 million if he remains on the Portland roster past Jan. 7, which looks like a good bet. But there could be more money, and perhaps another team, in store, as it doesn't sound like Anthony has any intentions of calling it quits after this season.
[Anthony] told The Athletic he wants to play for more seasons beyond this one.
"This ain't a damn farewell tour," Anthony said. "My love for the game don't stop. I don't know where this 'farewell tour' thing came from. I've never talked about a farewell tour. I know what I can do and I believe in myself. When a farewell tour comes, it comes. That's not something I think about. I'm not thinking about retiring right now. I had during this past stretch over the summer.
"But ain't no retiring in my mind. I believe in what I have left."
For the year that Anthony was out of the NBA, there was wide and consistent speculation that he would join up with one of his superstar friends, namely LeBron James with the Lakers or Dwyane Wade with the Heat. That obviously never happened, and again Anthony told The Athletic that he never considered going that route.
Throughout the past year, Anthony spoke to his star friends, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but neither the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat ever came close to signing him. And Anthony says he never asked, either.
"As far as friendships, I would never put business along with friendships," Anthony said. "I would never do that. I would never reach out to a friend and say, 'I need this. Can you do this for me?' when it pertains to a situation that may not be in their control. It was frustrating being in my position, but I just decided: control what you can control.
"I got close friends on a lot of teams that I would never reach out to for a favor. It's just not who I am."
Anthony appears to have found a home in Portland, at least for now, and if he keeps playing this way you would have to believe there will be at least a few teams interested in his services beyond this season. The defense is still bad, and that's not going to change. But he's giving effort. His shot is still there. And his teammates love him.
One of the cool things about experiencing Carmelo Anthony’s return to the NBA has been seeing how much his teammates like and respect him. It was evident in fourth as he went on scoring spree and entire bench was celebrating. He has had an incredible influence on this team.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) November 26, 2019
If Melo is going to lead this way -- and be received this way -- in the locker room, then his skills are still plenty NBA worthy.