It has not been a banner 50th anniversary season for the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, given all that has happened with injuries, games lost that could have been won and, of course, the pandemic, it's been a disappointment wrapped in a catastrophe.
But one thing, for sure, stands out as a positive:
The signing of Carmelo Anthony.
The Hall of Famer-to-be has averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 37.1 percent from three-point range. He has made clutch shots and, most of all, been a positive influence on the locker room.
This from a player who was without a team until Nov. 19. And someone a lot of people did not think was a good chemistry guy.
"The perception of Carmelo is so … off," said Neil Olshey, the Blazers' president of basketball operations. "I mean, he's a hooper.
"When we talked back in the fall and we were struggling -- we had lost Zach, Nurk's timeline had been extended -- we realized we needed to do something and Carmelo just wanted to play.
"But he wanted an organization that was going to be honest with him about his role. What could he expect? What's expected of him?"
The Blazers told him that right from the start, Olshey said.
Then they stuck by it.
"When you have spent seven or eight months living up to what you said -- his role was what we said it was going to be, our style of basketball, how he was treated -- we have lived up to what we told him the environment was going to be like."
And Anthony has thrived, on and off the court.
"I have to say, he has not only totally bought into the team and the Trail Blazers," Olshey said, "he's out in Bend with his son, Kiyan -- a father and son trip -- they were out fishing. He loves the environment, he lives by the lake (Oswego) and I see him out on the water, he and Kiyan and La La (his wife). They really bought in and they love it up here."
Coach Terry Stotts did not know Anthony prior to his arrival, but he's said all season how important it was to bring him to Portland.
"I keep saying how fortunate we were that Carmelo came to Portland to begin with," Stotts said Wednesday. "This has been a tough season, but Melo has been terrific. One more example of who he is as a person.
"When the pandemic broke out, nobody wanted to be in New York, obviously. He and his family are doing well here, he seems very comfortable with where he's living and the routine that he has -- as much as you can in a pandemic.
"But his leadership, his voice of reason, his demeanor, I think has been very beneficial for everyone."
Olshey is in the business of trying to recruit free agents to play in Portland and he knows his players, in this strange season, have seen a side to the city and state they don't normally witness.
"We always talk about, we need to sell guys on basketball -- make sure the basketball is good," Olshey said. "And then the longer they are a part of this community and this lifestyle, the more they buy into it.
"It's very hard from the outside. They don't spend a lot of time here. They come in and play a game and then they leave.
"One of the hidden blessings of this for the guys on our roster, is they finally got the summer here. It's one of the things we talk about here, no matter how late we go into the season, it's still 58 degrees and raining, except the odd day.
"Then it breaks and all of a sudden, it's glorious. But those guys have moved on at that point.
"It's been terrific now that Carmelo and Hassan (Whiteside) and Rodney Hood have gotten the opportunity to see what it's like here in the offseason. The irony is that guys were running all over to spend their offseason and you couldn't find a more beautiful place than Oregon in the summer."
And really, a year ago, who would have expected to see Carmelo Anthony and his family cavorting on Lake Oswego in the summer?