What to make about Melo?


New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) points as he holds the ball against Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Washington. The Wizards won 117-101. (Nick Wass/AP)

I don’t really know what it was. Maybe it was the swagger of the headband and cornrows look. Maybe it was the silky smooth jump shot. It might’ve just been those ever-fresh powder blue uniforms.

Whatever the reason, Carmelo Anthony has always been one of my favorite athletes and was my first favorite player in the NBA. The first basketball jersey I ever owned was a light-blue Nuggets No. 15 jersey, and his Oak Hill throwback is in my current jersey repertoire. I still have a Carmelo Anthony trash can in my room and a copy of his autobiography for kids.

So, why, with all the rumors swirling that Anthony could potentially end up on my beloved Boston Celtics, did I read those rumors and flinch?

As the NBA progresses towards the Feb. 23 trade deadline, Anthony is currently the hottest name out there. That being the case, it’s time to analyze Melo and why it honestly seems like no one wants him.

Right now, Anthony is a NBA star; but he is not a NBA superstar. Trust me, there’s a difference.

Anthony, who is now 32, missed the All-Star game this year as his New York Knicks continue to struggle to make noise in the 2016-17 season after accumulating a handful of past-their-prime big name free agents.

His player efficiency rating (PER) of 19.5 isn’t even in the league’s top 50 right now, and defensively, he’s as much of a liability as ever.

However, his 3-point-percentage (35.5 percent) and effective field goal percentage (49.1 percent) are up while his turnover percentage (8.3) is down from the past two seasons, so he’s hardly a lost cause.

A nine time All-Star and former regular season scoring champ, Melo is fourth among active players in in career points per game and is a future Hall of Famer. In his prime, he was among the five best players in the entire NBA and has been named to six All-NBA Teams to show it.

But unlike “scorer” or “bad defender,” one connotation that hasn’t stuck with Anthony is “winner.”

Since bullying his way to being traded to the New York Knicks, Anthony has been a pariah. While he has been stuck with one of the league’s worst owners in James Dolan and poor personnel decisions have been made around him, the fact is Melo has not found the success he was capable of, unlike his NBA counterparts.

He has struggled to co-exist with other stars; things with Allen Iverson in Denver were fine, but not great. Melo never appeared to show Jeremy Lin love when “Linsanity” took off and he was soon gone from New York. He never could co-exist with Amar’e Stoudemire, who was also forced out. Currently, stuck with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Knicks are far from meeting expectations, to put it gently. Kristaps Porzingis, the Great Latvian hope for the Knicks, isn’t progressing quite as well as hoped either and there have been questions about if Anthony needs to be more supportive. When’s the last time a high-profile free agent even sniffed the Knicks?

Elsewhere throughout the years, the so-called “Banana Boat Crew,” of Anthony’s best friends Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, have found high levels of success and brought in lots of high-level talent successfully under one roof.

Several years of this have earned Anthony the “loser” tag, as he has been complacent taking his exorbitant salary and sucking in New York. He requested and received a no-trade clause in his latest contract, giving him control to keep himself planted.  Anthony has never been known to get into elite athletic shape and his hustle, especially when it comes to rebounding and defense, has always been subpar, much like his leadership.

That, along with a declining skillset, is why teams and fans alike are unsure whether or not to welcome him to their city this season. Teams want Olympic Melo, which I truly believe if studied by professionals, would become a recognized psychological phenomenon.

In the Olympics, Anthony has co-existed with other stars beautifully. He has been a starter and key contributor for four Olympic teams. He has scored and been in the forefront without forcing the issue. He is Team USA’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He has been a leader, serving as captain in 2016. He has adjusted to different roles within the system of play. Above all else, he has been a winner.

Alas, it is an anomaly which has never translated to the NBA and it’s why, ultimately, I don’t think I want him in Boston and probably why the Celtics already said, “no thanks.”  The NBA version of Carmelo Anthony is too ball-dominant; he doesn’t fit. Isaiah Thomas needs to the ball in his hands right now and I don’t think Carmelo can function without it. He is also a poor rebounder and defender, the two areas the Celtics need to improve in to become a true contender this season.

Recently reports came out Anthony would waive his no-trade clause for the Celtics. Maybe it’s his acknowledgment of wanting to win in this league and he would adjust to mesh with the Celtics. However maybe it’s just an acknowledgment he wants out of New York. Unless the Knicks have a low asking price, it’s too risky to give up great assets for him right now if I’m Danny Ainge.

The Los Angeles Clippers, with his buddy Chris Paul, also appear to be strongly interested. Logistically, it appears to be a challenging trade to work out and Anthony would have to potentially play fourth fiddle behind Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. It doesn’t seem like a feasible recipe for success either.

Anthony still has an accomplished offensive skillset and abundance of experience. He is intelligent and charitable off the court, as well. I’m certainly rooting for him to find success before his career runs out.

But Anthony has earned himself the aura of an underachiever and the reputation of a pernicious teammate and leader. He has dug his reputation a deep hole these past years, and that’s why nobody wants to help him dig himself out.

Matt Barresi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.

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