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Column: Will Carmelo Anthony make it back to the NBA?

Houston Rockets small forward Carmelo Anthony controls the ball against the Brooklyn Nets.
Carmelo Anthony recently spoke with the Lakers and Clippers about the possibility of playing for them this season, but it looks like the 35-year-old will still be a free agent when the season starts next month.
(Getty Images)

When NBA training camps and preseason games begin later this month, Carmelo Anthony will likely be without a team.

Anthony played in just 10 games with the Houston Rockets last season after signing a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. He has technically been on four teams (Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago) over the past year but the 35-year-old, 10-time NBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist still finds himself unemployed.

Highlights of Anthony playing pick-up basketball games against current NBA players go viral almost weekly whenever his trainer Chris Brickley posts them on social media as a reminder of what teams are missing. On Monday, Anthony was shown crossing over Lakers guard Danny Green during a run in New York and looking like his old self against the two-time NBA champion. Earlier this summer, Anthony went head to head with Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “Melo is easily better than half the league right now. There’s no question about it. He should be on a team right now. He’s still one of the best players. The slander people throw at him is something I don’t really understand. Maybe that’s just the way today’s society is right now.”

The center will be the home of Team SoloMid (TSM), which fields players and esports teams for video games such as “League of Legends” and “Fortnite.”

Dwyane Wade, who was in the same 2003 draft class as Anthony, has watched him workout and talks to him regularly and is hoping he gets a chance to show teams he can still play. He would like to see him leave the game on his terms as Wade did last season when he announced his retirement.

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“He’s a brother of mine and a great friend and I’m just very disappointed that he’s not in the NBA because he doesn’t deserve that as a person,” Wade said. “Melo is one of the best individual people I know and a lot of people don’t know that because things that have been said about him in the past. Hopefully he gets an opportunity to be with a team this season because he has a lot to still offer the right team in the right role and the right situation. I want him to be able to end his career the way he wants to end it. He deserves that as someone who has carried the torch for this game and done so much for the league and Team USA in the Olympics. He deserves better than this.”

Anthony recently said his representatives have reached out to the Lakers and Clippers but nothing is imminent. BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube thinks Anthony deserves to be back in the NBA but believes the best possible path could be joining his professional three-on-three basketball league. Joe Johnson, 38, was recently named the BIG3 MVP and is expected to sign with an NBA team before the start of training camp.

Lakers star LeBron James, left, stands next to Houston Rockets small forward Carmelo Anthony during a game on Oct. 20, 2018.
Lakers star LeBron James, left, stands next to Houston Rockets small forward Carmelo Anthony during a game on Oct. 20, 2018.
(Getty Images)

“I think Carmelo would be great in the BIG3 but I think some guys have a stigma about the BIG3,” Cube said. “When you go to the BIG3 your career is over but that’s not true. When the NBA lets you go, your career is over but you can continue to be a pro here. The BIG3 is where you continue your basketball career and until guys understand that, there’s going to be that stigma. Look at Joe Johnson, he showed what he could do in the BIG3 and he’s going to be back in the NBA. Carmelo could do the same if he wants.”

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Blake Griffin was a big reason the Clippers went from a laughingstock to one of the best teams in the NBA during his eight-year career in Los Angeles. While he said he believes the Clippers have all the pieces to make a championship run this season after acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, he said he believes it’s a stretch to believe they will ever win over L.A.

“It’s exciting for L.A. basketball with what the Lakers and Clippers did but the Lakers are such a force,” Griffin said. “I said this when I played here but I don’t think you’re ever going to take that away from them but at least they’re trying to raise the competition and make a battle. It’ll be fun to watch.”

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The Rams and New Orleans Saints were divisional rivals from 1970 to 2001 but Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald thinks it’s safe to call them rivals again as they enter Sunday’s game at the Coliseum.

“I think you can definitely call it a rivalry now,” Donald said. “I feel like we play the Saints every single season and it’s usually a dogfight where we go back and forth. There’s a lot of history with these two teams. You can definitely call it that after what happened last year. We look forward to another great game on Sunday. These are the type of games you live for.”

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald looks on during a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in Hawaii last month.
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald looks on during a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys in Hawaii last month.
(Getty Images)

In addition to last season’s NFC championship game, both teams have played each other every season since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2016.

The move has worked out well for the team as well as for star players such as Donald, who said being in L.A. has opened doors for endorsement deals that perhaps wouldn’t have been available to him otherwise. For example, he’s in a new Pizza Hut commercial that will air during Sunday’s game.

“I’m getting a lot of great opportunities like that being in Los Angeles,” Donald said. “Anytime you get an opportunity to do something outside of football it’s definitely a blessing.”

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Being in Los Angeles helps but so does being on a winning team and Donald expects the Rams to build off the success they have enjoyed in Sean McVay’s two seasons as head coach and become a championship team this season.

“He brought a winning attitude and he holds people accountable,” Donald said. “That’s what we needed as a team. He will always find ways to improve us as a team. He’s a young coach, who’s hungry to be great and he’s never satisfied. It rubs off on the team. We’ve been successful the last two years but I believe this could be the year where we could win it. We went to the Super Bowl last season but we’d like to get back and win it this time.”


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