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Carmelo Anthony officially signed his one-year deal with the Houston Rockets Monday, reuniting the veteran scorer with head coach Mike D‘Antoni.
Anthony, who signed a one-year, $2.4 million deal with Houston, was coached by D’Antoni in New York. The two had a murky relationship back then and D’Antoni resigned from his post during the 2011-12 season because he was unable to get Anthony to buy into his style.
D’Antoni and Anthony, however, have since patched things up and the Rockets’ coach believes Anthony is a good addition to the team.
“I understand some of the naysayers,” D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I understand the question marks going into it. I would be worried about it if there were no conversations. But those have been answered sufficiently. Now, we’ll have to adjust. I’ll have to adjust a few things to get the best out of Melo and he’ll have to adjust his game to play with us the best he can. That’s normal things it took Chris (Paul) and James (Harden) about an hour and half to get solved.”
Anthony will compete for a starting spot in training camp, but ultimately could come off the bench — based on whatever D’Antoni decides makes most sense for the Rockets. Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder and shot only 40.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Despite having a down year with the Thunder, Anthony’s close pal, Paul, advocated the Rockets to sign Anthony. Paul, Anthony and Harden had a training session together before Anthony left for Africa and the trio “played unbelievable together,” according to Anthony’s trainer, Chris Brickley.
“Nothing’s been decided,” D’Antoni said. “He, like everyone else on the team, like Eric Gordon, if that’s what’s best for the team, that’s what I’ll do. We’ll see what performs best. What makes the best rotation and how to get the best out of them. Whether he starts or doesn’t start, and he said it, is a moot point. We’ll make that decision as we go forward. Maybe he starts the game, maybe he doesn’t.”
The Rockets lost to the Golden State Warriors in seven games in the Western Conference Finals. Houston took a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6, but Paul missed Games 6 and 7 with a hamstring injury and the Rockets weren’t able to close out the series without their floor general.
In the Game 7 loss, the Rockets missed 27 straight 3-pointers, another reason why D’Antoni is confident Anthony will boost Houston’s offense.
“He’s a good shooter,” D’Antoni said. “He can spot-up from 3, like Chris did with James. He can do that with those two, easily. He’ll play a lot of four. He’ll play some three. We have defensive guys like Eric Gordon. He’s not going anywhere. He has a certain skill-set that at times will be very valuable. When we don’t need that skill-set, he can catch and shoot and play hard, like anybody else. He’s an enormous talent and I think we can make this work.”
D’Antoni says he and Anthony never had a blowup in New York and were able to work together again during the Olympics. Now that Anthony is at a different stage in his career, it appears the 10-time All-Star is going to be more of a team player in Houston.
“We never had a blowup,” D’Antoni said. “We never had hard feelings. Melo’s a good guy.”