Struggling out of the gate, the Trail Blazers signed veteran forward Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed contract on Thursday. Following a weekend full of analysis from around the media landscape, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski detailed Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey’s thought process that led to the signing.
According to the report from ESPN, Olshey had pursued Anthony during his stint with the Knicks. Several years later, and a shift in expectations led to a clear message from the Blazers:
“You need us,” sources said Olshey told Anthony. “And we need you.”
Along with Olshey’s previous interest, CJ McCollum was a consistent advocate for a move that involved bringing Melo to Portland.
Olshey and coach Terry Stotts had heard McCollum say throughout the summer that Anthony’s New York workouts were convincing, that Anthony could still be useful to a franchise. Yes, circumstances changed for Portland, too. Like the rest of the NBA, the Blazers wouldn’t sign Anthony to sit on the end of the bench.
Injuries and a slow start inside a loaded Western Conference eventually led to the Blazers’ revamped interest in the 35-year-old forward. Even with a clear need for help in the frontcourt, Wojnarowski revealed that Olshey needed to confirm with Anthony that his role would be more than a farewell tour.
They want him on the court as soon as Tuesday’s game in New Orleans. Before agreeing to a deal on Thursday, Olshey needed to hear that Anthony is eager to play ball and impact winning -- not simply reenlist into the NBA lifestyle or take a goodbye lap.
Sources briefed on the call suggested that Olshey’s message was this: Anthony needed a home where he could have a definitive role for a winning organization, needed the best players to respect and embrace him. And the Blazers needed someone with stature to walk in the door and shake up the locker room.
Anthony’s last action in the NBA occurred early in the 2018-19 season during a brief 10-game stint with the Rockets. During his time in Houston, Melo produced 13.4 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting from the field. Anthony is expected to join the Blazers on Tuesday in a matchup against the Pelicans, the third game on Portland’s six-game road trip.
You can read Wojnarowksi’s full post at ESPN.