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Does Carmelo Anthony Still Belong in Portland?

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The All-World forward has been a steady port in the storm, but should the Blazers be sailing these waters?

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets - Game Five Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers have an interesting trade and free agency period ahead in the summer of 2021. They’ll need to make several decisions regarding their current roster, including how much they value nearly every member thereof.

In preparation for the big summer, Dave Deckard and Dia Miller of the Dave and Dia Podcast are asking each other — and you — whether to “Keep or Yeet” each member of the team.

The concept is pretty much like it sounds. Take one Blazers player. Do you keep him around for next season or show him the door?

Today we get to the elder statesman, the diplomat, one of the most famous players to ever put on Portland’s uniform: Carmelo Anthony. He’s provided scoring and star-power that the Blazers’ bench sorely lacks. But he’s not the Carmelo of old, and even if he was, his game has holes. What should the Blazers do with him, given the choice?

We hasten to point out that voting “Yeet” (colloquially: to toss away with authority, somewhat gleefully) does not mean that Dave and Dia dislike the player, think the player has no talent, or regret the player being a Blazer. There can be a thousand reasons to yeet your resident shooting guard, only some of which have to do with him.

Similarly, voting “Keep” does not indicate that Dave and Dia think the player is perfect, just that the reasons for keeping him outweigh the reasons for letting him go.

Dave: So here’s one I know we’ve been waiting for. Do we come to praise Carmelo Anthony or to bury him? What’s your take on the elder statesman of the club?

Dia: I am afraid that regardless of how I feel about this, Melo probably won’t be back next season. I have this feeling… but for what it’s worth, I would keep him.

Dave: I think Carmelo would quickly become the Poster Dude for, “Neil just went with the same old team.” He wouldn’t be the main symptom, but he’d be the easiest to blame because of the obvious shortcomings in his overall game. He’s still got the desire and much of the skill, but his playing style doesn’t necessarily mesh with the team and his defense isn’t helping. On paper it’d be a “two steps forward, two steps back” move. IN the papers it’d be a nightmare.

Why would you keep him?

Dia: Melo is the exception to every rule for me. When we started this series and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep everyone, I did the best I could to look at the big picture and what COULD be if we traded certain guys. Even then, I’ve hated every single one I’ve yeeted away (yeeted away?! Is that the internet correct use of this ridiculous word??). I can’t do it with Melo. I can’t put aside my emotion. This is admittedly not a strategic choice. It’s purely emotional. But I get one of those, right? Just one? I’m not tying up 20 million, just a veterans minimum and a spot on the bench.

Dave: Shhhhh! We don’t say, “20 million” around Orman-nay Owell-pay.

I mean, he’s scoring 20 points per 36 minutes, which is an argument in your favor. It’s the third-highest per-minute production after the You-Know-Who’s. That said, he’s also taking the third most shots per minute and he’s nowhere near the lead in percentage. That’s modified by his 41% success rate from the arc, which is huge. You can kind of tilt your head sideways and say somebody on the squad has got to take those shots, particularly off the bench. That may remain true next year.

Then again, if Norman Powell comes back, he should absorb plenty of field goal attempts. If he and CJ McCollum both return, McCollum will probably need to play with the second unit as well as the starters. That’s going to eat into ‘Melo’s touches.

And the defense. Bless him. He tries hard at the right moments. It’s just not there. I don’t know that I can justify the distraction and lack of “D” even on a minimum contract, knowing you HAVE to play him reasonably big minutes in order to keep him happy.

But who else is filling those minutes?

But is that really a reason to keep a guy of Anthony’s stature?

UGGGGGHHHH.

Dia: This is it. Keep or Yeet finally broke me (and also I’m about to boycott the word “Yeet” if I have to keep saying it). I can no longer think like a reasonable, objective person. Melo is apparently where I draw the line. Don’t mess with him—he’s off limits. Truthfully, I would love to see Melo retire in Portland. You know I love a good guy, a good story, and a good act of redemption. Melo is all of the above. I think after leaving the league and having Portland take a chance on him, it would be sad to watch him bounce around until he retires. Just finish it out in Portland. That’s the happy ending I’m here for.

Dave: If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, it was meant to be.

That’s craptastic advice for romance, but it probably applies here. If ‘Melo can’t find a happier home in LA (I think he can) and if the Blazers don’t go another direction with their veteran bench (up in the air), maybe he’ll come back. I don’t think it’s going to happen and I don’t feel strongly enough towards Anthony’s contributions to un-yeet him.

What about you, readers? Would you keep the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer like Dia or is it time to let him go as Dave suggests? Let us know in the comments!

The Tally So Far...

CJ McCollum— Dave and Dia “yeet”

Norman Powell— Dave and Dia “keep”

Robert Covington— Dave and Dia “keep”

Jusuf Nurkic— Dave and Dia “yeet”

Derrick Jones, Jr.Dia “keep”, Dave “yeet”

Anfernee Simons— Dave and Dia “keep”

Carmelo Anthony— Dia “keep”, Dave “yeet”