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NBA Fastbreak: Carmelo Anthony brings star power back to league, earns guaranteed contract

Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony adjusts his headband during a game against the Clippers on Dec. 3 at Staples Center.
Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony adjusts his headband during a game against the Clippers on Dec. 3 at Staples Center.
(Katherine Lotze / Getty Images)

Since his return to the NBA, Portland forward Carmelo Anthony has been celebrated by his peers, people who were stunned that the league had seemingly left him behind.

“I think it just shows the level of respect that we have for Melo and what he’s done for this league, who he’s been to us in this league,” Paul George said after the Clippers beat Portland on Tuesday. “It was great to share the court with him again. We were out there, we had laughs, we competed, we battled. It felt like old times having him on the court. I think it is great for the league.”

Through nine games, he’s averaging 16.7 points — the most he’s scored since he left the New York Knicks in 2017.

After two years as a failed sidekick in Oklahoma City and Houston, Anthony is once again being viewed as a star, evidenced by the massive crowd of reporters and cameras that waited for him outside the visiting locker room at Staples Center. And he’s handled the attention with grace, earning even more admiration from his teammates.

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“He’s not making this all about himself,” Damian Lillard said.

Dwight Howard put himself in a category with NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain in 2018 when he turned in a rare 30-point, 30-rebound game.

Still, Portland’s ability to let Anthony be himself — making him a prominent figure in the offense — has allowed him to make an impact and earn a fully guaranteed deal through the remainder of this year.

Can he save Portland’s season? It’s still too soon to tell with the Trail Blazers’ injury problems getting worse Friday when Rodney Hood was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. But people, Anthony included, are enjoying having him back in the league.

Chris Paul meets his destiny

It was the play he was born to make.

With his Oklahoma City team down two points in the final second Friday night, Paul noticed that Minnesota forward Jordan Bell checked into the game with his jersey untucked. And because Paul knows every page of the league’s rule book, he correctly alerted officials that Bell was subject to a delay of game violation.

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The Timberwolves were assessed a technical foul, the Thunder made the free throw, and after Karl-Anthony Towns hit from the line, the Thunder connected on a Hail Mary pass to get a score and send the game into overtime (where they would win).

For Paul, someone who has been trying to steal free throws by working his way in and out of the NBA’s rule book, Friday’s “play” might be one that best defines his personality.

Tip-ins

ESPN reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to listen to trade offers on Kevin Love, news that came on the same day the Athletic reported player unhappiness with coach John Beilein. Love is averaging 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game this season. … Speaking of trades, with a change of coach in New York after David Fizdale’s firing Friday, expect teams to call any poke around their roster. One name to keep an eye on: point guard Frank Ntilikina. … In a sign of what will surely happen for the rest of the season, the NBA has begun flexing the Golden State Warriors out of nationally televised games.


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