Hours after a three-team trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks became official Wednesday, Anthony sounded like someone who had gone through the multiple stages of grief and had finally landed at the point of acceptance.
Anthony is expected to be waived by the Hawks, and once he clears waivers, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent and probably sign with the Houston Rockets.
“To get bought out, to get waived, you were looked at like, you’re done,” said Anthony, who was in Washington, D.C., to attend a private Nike event Wednesday night. “Now, it’s just almost like the norm. If something doesn’t work, go ahead and get a buyout or go ahead and get traded. That’s the new norm in our society in basketball. I had to get over that.
“I had a conversation with my wife and family. I said to them, I’m not taking no buyout. I’m not getting waived. And they said, at the end of the day, nobody is going to know that. You have to do what you have to do. It’s going to be a blip on your radar. It’s on to the next chapter. It took me a while to get to that point where I’m like, OK, I’m going to accept it.”
Anthony was coy about the possibility of joining the Rockets. Coincidentally, video footage of him playing basketball with James Harden and good friend Chris Paul in Los Angeles made the rounds on social media Wednesday.
“Obviously, we’re just trying to figure it out,” Anthony said. “Everybody knows about the trade to Atlanta. I think everything is trying to get cleared right now. I’ll let the people do what they do. I just sit back and when the time comes, and the call gets made, we’ll make that move.”
Anthony’s situation with the Thunder came to a head after he elected not to opt out of the final year of his contract, which pays him $27.9 million. Anthony and his reps reportedly collaborated with the Thunder to find a workable solution, resulting in Anthony waiving his no-trade clause to make the Hawks deal possible.
Anthony said ultimately things didn’t work out with the Thunder because of timing.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t a good fit,” he said. “I think last year — and I haven’t talked about this before — everything was just so rushed, going to the team for media day and the day before training camp. Them guys already had something in place, and then I come along in the 25th hour like, oh s—, Melo just come on and join us. Like, you can figure it out since you’ve been around the game for a long time. That’s why it was so inconsistent. At times, I had to figure it out on my own rather than somebody over there or people over there helping me.”
There are varying opinions on how much adding Anthony could help the Rockets. Houston has an uncertain roster since pushing the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals. Trevor Ariza is now in Phoenix, and Clint Capela remains unsigned. Still, even Anthony acknowledges that playing with the Western Conference runner-up gives him an opportunity to change the perception that he isn’t about winning.
“I think winning, at the end of the day, rewrites everything,” he said. “It settles everything. I also look back at this past year. When we were winning, the story was written already. When we started losing, the story is written. It’s almost premeditated. I’m playing ball. I’m happy. I’m excited about what’s to come, wherever that may be.”