What really went wrong with the Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Carmelo Anthony has been named Western Conference Player of the Week for his play in Portland. His current form is exactly what the Houston Rockets expected from him last year, so what went wrong?

The ire around Carmelo Anthony‘s unceremonious 10-game Houston Rocket career has nearly passed. He was dumped and made the scapegoat last season for a team that started the season flat and without their defensive coach.

Houston convinced Jeff Bzdelik to unretire and come back to the team on November 5, and Anthony played his final game as a Rocket three days later.

Anthony was supposed to be the number three option, scoring wing the Rockets had been dreaming of. Even past his prime, Anthony seemed vastly more talented than any other wing on the roster, but the 4-6 start made the team feel forced into a decision.

The team played out the rest of the season to a 53-29 mark and grabbed the four seed. Then, once again, the team fell to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. All the while, Carmelo Anthony was at home, training, waiting for a team to call.

There were the expected “Melo to the Lakers” rumors, but, for the most part, all the Melo information was just to get something going for talking heads. Then, the summer came and there were rumors he’d join the Nets. Those also turned out to be just rumors.

At that point, it seemed like Anthony had played his final NBA game and that one of the all-time great scorers would go out with a whimper.

Then, the 4-8 Blazers made the announcement they would be making the opposite move as the Rockets. Their pitiful forward rotation made any change look like a good change. It has only been a six-game run, but Anthony has averaged a respectable 17.7 points and six rebounds on 46.2 percent shooting from the field (a mark he hasn’t hit since the 2007-08 season).

Melo’s play during the team’s 3-game winning streak to close out November even earned him his first Player of the Week honor since March 2014. The award may seem questionable with what else happened this week, but the main reason for Anthony’s victory is the value given compared to what many expected.

.@carmeloanthony has been named Western Conference Player of the Week! The Trail Blazers went 3-0 with Melo averaging:

♨️ 22.3 ppg
♨️ 7.7 rpg
♨️ 2.7 apg

(via @NBA) pic.twitter.com/PlyoZ5xlDn

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 2, 2019

This tear will likely end and Melo will return to much more modest production. Torrid play from 35-year-old wings can only be expected of one man (starting at the end of this month).

To this point, the main problem the Carmelo-Rockets relationship seems to have been a lack of time. Judging a former superstar off a 10-game stretch while fitting into a brand new system is foolish. Still, so is thinking he has returned to his prime based off a six-game stretch.

Neither the Rockets nor the Blazers needed Prime Melo or Olympic Melo. They just needed a version of the Hoodie Melo everyone was seeing on NBA Twitter. A player that could still get a bucket.

Next. Why Clemons could lead the team in bench scoring

Aging players have more deviation in the highs and lows than their younger selves. The key is placing expectations somewhere in the middle. It seems the Blazers were willing to do that, while the Rockets couldn’t wait for Melo to stabilize.