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Will Carmelo Anthony land on an NBA roster? The Crossover podcast discusses his future in the league and why USA Basketball decided to pass on him. 

By Chris Mannix
August 16, 2019

Carmelo Anthony is still trying to figure out his future in the NBA and as we get closer to the NBA season, things continue to get more foggy. Jerry Colangelo selected to not offer him a spot on the USA basketball roster for the FIBA World Cup and NBA teams have just about finalized their rosters for this upcoming season. 

Joining SI's Chris Mannix on the Crossover podcast this week is Sarah Kustok, Nets analyst for YES Network and NBA insider for FS1. Mannix and Kustok take a deep dive into Melo's future and why USA Basketball chose to pass on his services.

(Listen to the latest Crossover podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)


Chris Mannix: I want to begin with Carmelo Anthony who as we speak and I think that's going to be the case for a while does not have an NBA team and I reported last week after talking to Jerry Colangelo that this wasn't really a case of Carmelo not wanting to play USA Basketball, it was Carmelo wanting to play for USA Basketball and USA Basketball saying no to a guy that I think is the greatest USA basketball player ever when you factor in you know all the medals and numbers he's put up as a member of this team. What did you make of the decision by USA Basketball to say no to Carmelo Anthony?

Sarah Kustok: I have all the respect in the world for Jerry Colangelo and what they decided to do. My initial reaction was that I was surprised because as you said he is one of the most decorated players in USA Basketball history. We've talked about the last few weeks about how many players have passed on playing. I was shocked and I guess you know Colangelo came out and said that he felt like Carmelo may have been using it as a springboard to get himself back in the NBA and maybe this wasn't the right circumstances. You do need to think about just their direction and what they're trying to do. But to be honest my initial reaction I was surprised that they wouldn't bring him on to that roster.

Mannix: Yeah, I get where Jerry Colangelo was coming from. If Carmelo was there it would have been kind of like Carmelo show to a degree. You know everyone flocked around him and asked him about you know what happened last year with the Rockets or what's going on with career right now. The focus wouldn't be on USA Basketball. Of all the criticisms of Melo like he's a very good guy and a very good teammate who just you know doesn't fit in kind of today's NBA like. It's not like I don't think he'd be a drag on that team and one thing we know about Carmelo Anthony is that he is very good at the USA game. Like his style of play may be an ill fit for today's NBA but for the international game it's still really good—and that's based on everything and the numbers he put up over the last few years. So I was surprised. Given what we know about the team that it's kind of a state of flux a lot of young guys not a lot of players with international experience less so now with Kyle Lowry being out of that mix having a veteran with that group I think would have been a net positive but clearly they didn't think that.

Kustok: Well and even to I would think whether the term distraction fits. Like I believe in this circumstance like the attention maybe would have been and maybe in part in initially or in certain circumstances there would have been questions about his NBA future and the point that he's at and trying to latch back on or get back on to a roster and to a team in the NBA but you would think if ever there was a time where the media attention around it or wherever they may go would be something that would be natural and welcome and it's a little bit more I say a relaxed environment an environment where when they were a training camp in Vegas they go to L.A. they go to Australia obviously going out to China that and I don't know I don't I wouldn't perceive that as being something that would entirely get in the way of their focus on the goal of what they were trying to do.

Mannix: So I've weighed in on this and last week Marc Stein was on here and weighed in on Carmelo's future. I mean he's out there working out, he's made the media rounds. He was on ESPN sort of laying out everything that's happened over the last year. It's very clear that he badly wants to get back in for at least one more season. But the interest at least right now just isn't there. Do you think we've seen the last of Carmelo Anthony in the NBA?

Kustok: I have a hard time thinking that if you asked me, do you think that he'll be on a roster entering the start of the season, I would probably say no. Just given the way the rosters have shaken out what teams are looking for obviously the lack of interest thus far that's shown. But the way injuries happen the way different things shift throughout the course of a year with teams. I mean you think about the movement of all these teams and how many rosters that there will be front offices trying to piece together, coaching staff what exactly they have what things look like. I think there's so many questions surrounding so many different teams that once things start to shake out come December, January, February, there may be an opportunity with a team that says 'OK well he might be a good fit'.

I think a lot of it is just trust that the last two stops with Oklahoma City and Houston that maybe he's getting their shared responsibility. He came out and said to Stephen A. Smith I'm willing to take any role on a team. I think there's has to be a trust. It's not just words but it's truly how he will be able to feel on the roster. I think it's just tough. It is hard to see because you think about the player and the talent that Carmelo still is, However it's someone that would attract that much attention and that much focus. If you are the ninth man, the 10th and the 11th man on the roster, it's an interesting situation that a team would embark upon given that and as we haven't seen such thus far there's been an opportunity where it looks like a team and an organization is willing to take a chance on that.

Mannix: A couple of things, I would say look at the Lakers. If LeBron James wanted Carmelo Anthony on his team Carmelo would be on the team by now. You know the Lakers were out there signing everybody to these short contracts. Carmelo was out there. LeBron swings a big bat in that organization. If he wanted Carmelo on a short deal he would have been there. That to me speaks some volumes. I believe Carmelo's attitude is in the right place. But when you're talking about a seventh eighth and ninth man you want more than just a scorer. You want a guy that maybe can contribute without having the ball in his hands, that defends at a high level, that rebounds at a high level maybe does both those things at a slightly lesser level. Carmelo is still a guy that can get hot and give you 20 points but he's not going to defend at a high level, decent rebounder I guess for that three-four spot but is limited in a lot of ways there. So I don't see teams sort of looking at him being like ad we need the ninth or a tenth man he's the right fit for us. Normally you'd put like a 21 year old.

Kustok: Fresh legs yes someone they can get I got versatility up some multi-dimensional get upside. How do they fit in the context of our organization for the big picture? Because that's where I think there's a balance of teams of teams that believe in there's so many this season that are title contenders and what you're looking for out of that position and then the rest of them that think that okay we're still two, three, or four years off and what we want is a young 20 something year old who we think can grow into a different type of player and while you look at it and there's 450 roster spots within the league it's a little more unique to what each roster and what each team needs anf that's where it becomes challenging.

Mannix: The one team I would keep an eye on is Miami because you know Miami still looking at Chris Paul and they get Chris Paul chances are they have to move a lot of guys off that roster to make the money work. And one thing we know about Miami is that they're just kind of crazy. Like if a guy has talent they believe they can bleed every last bit of talent out of that players. It's their history, whether it is Dion Waiters or any other number of guys that have played for them. You know Jimmy Butler down there now. If they had a roster spot and Chris Paul was there I think they go on to take a flyer but other than that I don't see it. I don't see a team out there that would bring him in that hasn't already brought him in. Rosters are basically locked at this point. I don't think a big injury would make a difference. I think Miami is his only option at this point and that only happens opens up if they make a deal for Chris Paul right.

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