As the years pass, players who were once considered superheroes start to become visibly mortal.
It’s an inevitable part of an NBA player’s career — and although everyone understands that inevitability, it’s a difficult one to comprehend.
Yet it happens — to everyone.
If they’re lucky, an NBA player will be able to go out on his own — have a farewell tour, a chance to celebrate his career in front of the entire basketball world before he takes his final walk into the tunnel.
But the reality is, only a few players have that sort of foresight. It takes a special lack of ego and self-awareness to recognize where one stands in the timeline of his career.
Carmelo Anthony — a future Hall-of-Famer in the twilight of his career (if it isn’t already over)— lacked that sort of foresight.
Anthony laughed at the idea of coming off the bench in Oklahoma City, even though he was surrounded by younger All-Stars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George. He was determined to prove that his game was still elite, despite glaring numbers that served as evidence that he was, indeed, declining.
Now, Anthony is 35, and as each day passes with him on the free agent market, the gap between him and the NBA grows.
Former NBAers, like Royce White, have come out in Anthony’s defense, considering him to be “blackballed” from the NBA.
The truth is — Anthony isn’t “blackballed,” at least in terms of how that word is defined today (the suggestion that controversial opinions led to his ouster). He just isn’t a desired talent — because he’s 35, inefficient, and carries a history of putting himself first over his legacy/winning.
That doesn’t mean he can’t help a team.
Enter, the Washington Wizards.
The pros of signing Carmelo
I know, I know ...
The Wizards don’t have a spot for Anthony. They’re focused on developing the young core — Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant.
And that’s a great focus to have.
But please — take a look at the rest of the roster.
As I told Quinton Mayo on his podcast, the Wizards’ roster is largely comprised of unrecognizable players. They’re going to be bad — and that’s OK, because the team needs to dedicate the season to furthering the youth. Hachimura, Brown, Bryant, Admiral Schofield, and others all deserve playing time, and a chance to work out the growing pains.
From a fan’s raw perspective, though, the roster is quite nauseating.
It’s hard to find a roster as unappealing as Washington’s. Charlotte might be the only less watchable team in the league.
As bad as the team has been over the past two decades, that says something.
Anthony isn’t going to will the team to victory — he’s not going to ruin their chances of getting a top pick in next year’s draft. He’s merely going to put butts in seats, fill up the arena, sell some jerseys — and make them a bit more interesting.
Anthony was raised in Baltimore, so for him, playing in the nation’s capital would be a kind-of homecoming.
Seriously? The thought of watching Anthony brick shots in a Wizards jersey isn’t enough to give him a contract.
I get it.
Maybe that idea would lose its luster almost immediately upon seeing Anthony take shots away from the younger players.
However, there’s more to the game than just the ones listed on the schedule. There’s practice — where Anthony will share intimate moments with Hachimura, who grew up watching Anthony get buckets in his prime. Who else is going to teach Hachimura how to hit a fadeaway jump shot after jab stepping 75-too-many times?
For what it’s worth, Anthony appeared on ESPN and basically promised that he’s a changed man — that he’s willing to do whatever the team asks of him, including come off the bench and play the role of mentor.
Is that true? I mean, what do the Wizards have to lose in finding out?
The cons of signing Carmelo
What do they have to lose? See: Bradley Beal.
Washington is trying to convince Beal to stick around long-term and having Carmelo on the roster could deter him from doing that.
The end of his career hasn’t been pretty, but Carmelo is still among the most popular players on the planet. He would draw more media attention at 35 than Beal might his entire career. Beal has earned his spot as the team’s marquee player — but losing some of his shine to Carmelo could rub him the right way.
Besides, what kind of message does that send to Beal? Are you rebuilding? What’s the point of having Carmelo on the roster, anyway? Just to sell tickets? While other All-Stars have joined forces to compete with a championship, Beal would be stuck with an aging Carmelo. That might not sit well with the team’s star.
And as for getting a veteran in the locker room — that need is understandable. Isaiah Thomas was brought in for that exact reason. And if the Wizards really think they need another veteran, look no further than Jamal Crawford, who’s endorsed the idea of coming to Washington multiple times on social media.
This isn’t a Paul Pierce-type situation, where Carmelo would be brought in to guide the young stars in the playoffs. The Wizards aren’t one veteran piece away from competing in the Eastern Conference. Washington is still trying to figure out what they have in Hachimura, Brown, Bryant and Co. — they can’t afford to lose a single minute to Carmelo.
We’ve entered the dog days of the summer — so let’s talk about Carmelo.
Should the Wizards sign Carmelo Anthony?
This poll is closed
Sure - let’s spice up the season
No thank you - keep developing the young players