Carmelo Anthony has new attitude about coming off the bench with Rockets

Jason Owens
While <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3706/" data-ylk="slk:Carmelo Anthony">Carmelo Anthony</a> didn’t endorse the idea of playing off the bench in Houston, his attitude is a far cry from his flippant response in OKC. (Getty)
While Carmelo Anthony didn’t endorse the idea of playing off the bench in Houston, his attitude is a far cry from his flippant response in OKC. (Getty)

Carmelo Anthony rocked a new uniform and a new attitude on Monday.

While showing off his Houston Rockets digs at media day, Anthony expressed a willingness to come off the bench as he approached his 16th NBA season.

“All the questions of coming off the bench, I don’t want to answer those questions at the end of the day,” Anthony said about a possible reserve role. “Whatever I have to do to help this team win a championship, that’s what’s going to be done.”

Carmelo Anthony tamps down ego

While that’s not exactly a tacit endorsement of playing off the bench, it’s a far cry from his perplexed response to the idea last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder when he scoffed at the suggestion.

“Who me?” Anthony said while literally laughing at the idea of of being a reserve.” I don’t know where that came from.”

Apparently being paid nearly $28 million to go away has had an impact on Anthony’s ego. He had all the right cliches about being a team player ready to go on Monday.

“At the end of the day, we’re all going to camp to figure out what works in order for this team to try to win a championship,” Anthony said. “If that time comes, we’ll have that conversation. My goal is to go into training camp, be the best player I can be, be in the best shape I can be and do what I have to do to help this team get over the hump and win a championship. That’s all it is.”

Anthony has never come off the bench in the NBA

Anthony has started each of the 1,054 NBA regular season games he has played since joining the league in 2003, but has seen his skills diminish from his prime as one the game’s top scoring threats.

In his single season with the Thunder, Anthony’s field goal percentage dipped to a career-low 40.4 percent as he often finished those games that he started on the bench. An alpha player his entire career, Anthony found himself in a clear secondary role for the first time playing beside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, All-Stars in their primes.

Anthony clearly a secondary option

Houston will be no different for the 34-year-old as he joins a team led by reigning league MVP James Harden and eight-time All-Star Chris Paul still operating at a high level.

While head coach Mike D’Antoni’s scheme has evolved from a free-flowing form that valued ball movement to an isolation-heavy approach in Houston, it’s hard to imagine Harden and Anthony spending a significant time on the floor together as a recipe for success.

Anthony is a guy who needs the ball in his hands, and there aren’t going to be an abundance of touches for him in the starting lineup.

Mike D’Antoni not ready to talk Anthony’s role

D’Antoni told reporters that he needs to see his new-look team in action before making a decision on Anthony’s role.

“We’ll see how it fits,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know how they play together, they fit together. We have a great analytics team that will help [in addition to] gut feel. We do a lot of it scientifically, that this is the best way to go.”

The Rockets start training camp on Tuesday.

D’Antoni and Anthony famously clashed during their time together with the New York Knicks, prompting D’Antoni to quit in the middle of the 2012 season because of the discord between the two. Anthony won’t have that kind of sway in Houston.

For Anthony, knowing his role is probably the best role he can play this season for a team that has championship aspirations.

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