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The Case for Carmelo

Why the Rockets should seek the 12-time All-Star.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

For the second straight summer, the ball is on the two yard line.

Houston is the media’s favorite to land Carmelo Anthony for the second straight offseason, but we have seen this story before. Last season, the Rockets all but traded for Melo in a three-team trade that would have sent Ryan Anderson to Portland and a package including Moe Harkless and picks to New York.

This year, things are different as Oklahoma City is looking to dump Melo’s contract to save over $100 million on the payroll and if Melo were to become a Rocket, it would only be for about $4-5 million.

In response to Darren’s article earlier this week about the Rockets being the favorites for Melo, here are some of the reactions.

There were some positive comments about the prospects of Melo joining the Rockets, but the negative comments outnumbered the positive ones by a good margin. That being said, I stand on the side of positive-indifferent when it comes to the idea of Melo becoming a Rocket. I’m not begging and pleading that the Rockets sign him, but I think it is the best move Houston can make right now.

Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute are gone. Those ships have sailed. I wish the Rockets kept them, Daryl Morey wishes the Rockets kept them, everyone and their grandmother wishes the Rockets could have retained them, but the Rockets did not and have to move on.

Now, among the current free agents, name one that you would rather have over Melo. I’ll play the Jeopardy! theme for you so you can properly make that decision.

Now that you’ve played that whole video for ten hours, I’m sure you’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is no better option on the market currently.

The one person that probably came up as a potential alternative was James Ennis. Yes, Ennis is probably a better defender than Melo, but he is probably more likely of signing a minimum deal as opposed to one with the mid-level exception, which the Rockets would look to sign Melo with. I don’t think the possibility of signing both Melo and Ennis has been ruled out by the Rockets.

I can also understand the caution from fans last season for not wanting Melo at the price he was at. But now, his price is much cheaper than what it was a year ago. Anthony averaged 16.2 points per game, a career-low, and he ranked 43rd in points per game in the league this season. The next highest free agent scorer is Rodney Hood, who ranked 54th last season.

You won’t get a better scorer on the open market than Melo, even if he was a fraction of what he once was. I would rather have a fraction of Melo than what is left in free agency right now.

I also think the system fit for Melo in Houston is better than what he was trying to fit in OKC. Westbrook would push him out of rhythm and it led to his poorest shooting percentage of his career, 40.4 percent. However, Mike D’Antoni’s system is going to give Melo more looks from beyond next season and he already has a developed chemistry with Chris Paul, the one guy that made all of his teammates around him so much better. I think CP3 can have a similar effect on Melo like he did with James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela, all of whom had career years last season in their first year playing with Paul.

With Melo, I don’t think there is a huge risk to be taken. This reminds me slightly of when the Rockets traded for Ty Lawson back in 2015. The team had to do it because there was no reason not to. The Rockets gave away peanuts for him, and even though the Lawson experiment was a complete failure, it is not like the Rockets lost much because they traded for him.

Melo is the same thing. The Rockets are going to bring him in for peanuts. There is a chance that this thing bombs out and goes the opposite way the Rockets intend it to go, but at this point, they don’t have a better move they can make and they don’t have much, if anything, to lose.