Carmelo Anthony says he has new approach with Blazers after previously rejecting bench roles

Jack Baer

Carmelo Anthony is back in the NBA after signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, much to the delight of players around the league.

The new contract is the end of a long and apparently humbling road, as Anthony posted a YouTube video on Monday explaining how the deal came about and his outlook as he prepares to play for the fifth team of his career.

How Carmelo Anthony joined the Blazers

The way Anthony describes it, the agreement with the Blazers came about “in like 48 hours.” He said he got a call from the team Wednesday, committed to the team on Thursday and was asked to come in on Friday to start work with the team.

At that point, Anthony said he asked for some extra days to himself to get ready, which would explain why he didn’t make his debut until after the Blazers’ Monday game against his old team, the Houston Rockets.

“Let me just get three or four days of just, get back into it,” Anthony recalls saying. “Mentally and emotionally I had detached almost myself from the game a little bit, just to give myself some sanity and not think about it. But once I got that call, the challenge was for me to flip that back mentally. There's a big difference in training while you're waiting, and training once you get the call and saying, 'OK, we want to do this.’”

Carmelo Anthony is among friends in his return to the NBA. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Carmelo Anthony is among friends in his return to the NBA. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Blazers made immediate sense as a destination for Anthony. If there is a team with playoff aspirations that needed help at the forward position, it was Portland. The team has stumbled to a 5-9 start despite otherworldly play from star point guard Damian Lillard.

Portland was also reportedly a fit because Anthony counts Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum as friends.

“I always kept my eye on Portland,” Anthony said. “It just didn't work out at other times, but now it seems like a perfect opportunity. Me and Dame, we've been talking for the past couple years, just off and on. CJ has been playing in my Black Ops runs for the past four years. I just look at that opportunity, that team and say, look 'this is what I can bring to the team, this is where I can help it.' It will only work if all parties see it the same way.”

Will Carmelo be happy with a bench role?

Among the narratives that built up as Anthony’s absence from NBA rosters extended into the season was the veteran’s apparent disinterest in coming off the bench, a role he might be best suited for at this point.

Anthony infamously scoffed at the idea of coming off the bench when he was with the Thunder. He changed his tune after he was jettisoned from Oklahoma City and signed with the Rockets, but the memories remained. Anthony indicated he now looks back on that time with regret.

“What happened before is the past, I can't dwell on that, I learned from that,” Anthony said. “This happened at a point in time in my life where I do have a lot of clarity and understanding of different situations and just life, and my approach is totally different.”

By the sound of it, the Blazers will be getting a Carmelo Anthony with a new outlook. Both the player and team stand to benefit from it if he’s for real and still has some moves left in the tank.

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