In the summer of 2018, the biggest move for the Houston Rockets was the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, but instead of making a playoff-run with him as a key piece, Houston decided to part ways with Anthony after just 10 games.
Anthony said that the decision by Houston to release him after just 10 games caught him extremely off guard.
According to Anthony, he was in San Antonio preparing for a game when he was informed that he would no longer be needed on the team. Anthony said that he was never given a specific reason for the decision and that he was told it was not working out.
Because of the abruptness of the situation, Anthony believes that the decision had been thought about in advance which implies that he was never given a fair chance.
Friday morning marked the first public comments from Anthony on the situation between him and the Rockets.
Anthony’s comments brought back a distant memory from an action-packed season that was 2018-2019. In his final game with the Rockets, Anthony scored only two points as he went 1/11 from the field.
It was clear that Anthony was struggling to adjust to a new role, but he did have bright moments with Houston like his 28-point performance that helped Houston get a much-needed win against Brooklyn early in the season, and quite frankly, Anthony was not alone in having early-season struggles as most of the roster struggled out the gates.
The entire process that Houston went with in announcing that Anthony was going to be let go was unusually confusing.
From Daryl Morey holding an impromptu meeting with the media that seemed to try and deflect the early-season struggles off of Carmelo Anthony, to bringing back Jeff Bzdelik after he had unexpectedly retired in the offseason, to officially announcing the decision to part ways with Anthony just days later, the whole situation was quite a mess.
Anthony also says that he joined the Rockets because he was told that Houston believed he was the missing piece that would help them finally achieve the goal of winning a championship.
Anthony said that as the season began, the communication between him and the team decreased, and it became clear that that sentiment went away.
For years, Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has been criticized for treating players like assets and trading them left and right.
Anthony’s comments on First Take do the Rockets little favors in changing that perception around the league, especially when you add the fact that they just traded away Chris Paul after a bad postseason series against the Warriors.
To be fair, the move to bring in Russell Westbrook does extend Houston’s championship window and was the right move to make, but Melo’s comments and Houston’s previous track record could harm Houston down the road, especially in the buyout market and with Free Agents going forward.
For the past few years, Houston has always been chasing the big-name free agents, but they often seem to strikeout. Even crucial role players seem to sign with rival teams before the Rockets can obtain them.
Most of it has to do with Houston’s limited financial flexibility, but when players like Jimmy Butler choose Miami, a team with little chance to win a championship in the near future, over the Rockets, one starts to wonder why some players choose to pass on Houston.
Of course, the Rockets are in a very good place as of now because of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but they both came via trade due to a special set of circumstances, not in free agency.
Dwight Howard and Chris Paul chose to come to the Rockets, but they were both gone in less than three years, even if it was for different reasons.
This offseason, Austin Rivers re-signed with the team at a bargain, but again he seems to be an outlier.
The criticism of how the Rockets handle players is not new, and certainly has not seemed to have hindered them up to this point, but with the Western Conference as stacked as it is now, once the buy-out market begins, Houston will be competing with both Los Angeles teams and many others for the same players that become available.
Those players will surely be aware of Anthony’s comments, and it could potentially be a big deciding factor for them.
As sad as it is to think about, James Harden turns 30 this month, and will not be a Top-5 player forever. Once the Harden-era ends, if Houston still has a negative reputation amongst players, it could be hard to get back to the top of the NBA if players do not trust the organization.