In 2018, the Houston Rockets made the decision to bring Carmelo Anthony aboard to help them in their quest to win an NBA Championship. That quest lasted all of 10 games played before they shut him down for the remainder of the year and ultimately released him.
Nobody else would sign him for the season.
It wasn’t so much his scoring ability, but more so Anthony’s inability to adjust to the team’s defensive scheme that doomed his time in Houston, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
“During training camp in Louisiana, though, another issue arises, one that some Rockets officials say they hadn’t fully grasped until they saw Melo on the court: The 34-year-old is struggling in the team’s defensive scheme, one that requires players to switch often on pick-and-roll action. (According to Second Spectrum data, the Rockets switched on 44% of screens last season, by far the highest in the NBA. The Warriors were second at 33%. No other team was above 25%.)
That Anthony was a subpar defender wasn’t breaking news to anyone, but then the NBA’s style of play changed — in a big way.”
The emergence of the three pointer put more pressure on Anthony’s defense and he got exposed badly. The Rockets knew it would be somewhat of a concern, but they had no clue how bad Anthony would look in their system.
Other teams began to notice that as well, and soon he would become a likely target every single game.
“One rival front-office executive notes that the league’s 3-point revolution makes it harder than ever to hide players who aren’t strong defenders. He’s talking about Carmelo Anthony — someone, he says, “who can’t defend, can’t close out, his feet are slow and he gets blown by.” More than ever, offensive teams will repeatedly target weak defenders in pick-and-roll actions, the executive adds…
Although the Rockets knew of Anthony’s defensive weaknesses before he joined, team sources say they didn’t anticipate just how limited he would be in their aggressive switch-centric defense, which tasked him with running quicker players off the 3-point line. One team source speculates that, had they known he’d struggle so much in their defense, Anthony wouldn’t have been brought aboard. “He really, really struggled with it,” the source says.”
During his time with the Thunder, the 2017 playoff series against Utah showed just how bad his defense was when the Jazz put him into every pick-and-roll they could, and in the end the Thunder were 29.4 points per 100 possessions better when Anthony sat vs. when he played.
Carmelo deserves at least one last shot, but it remains to be seen which team is going to sign him.