Carmelo Anthony sits down for his Thunder exit interview.
The modern NBA star is a free-standing figure. Even in the midst of a contract, high profile players feel they have room to negotiate their terms, and in some cases their roles on a team. 2018 was a difficult year for Carmelo Anthony in particular. His trade from New York to Oklahoma gave him little time in the preseason to adjust. In his exit interview on Saturday, Melo thanked the city for welcoming him with open arms.
The conversation put his many insecurities into focus. For one, Carmelo, barring any tremendous change of heart, will not be accepting a bench role next season. He stated "That's out of the question." The sentiment has echoed all season long. Even on day one, Carmelo told Paul George "Hey, P! They want me to come off the bench," as the two crossed paths during shootaround.
In keeping the question alive, the Oklahoma media may have planted a seed of doubt in the minds of their star players. Yet it's hard to pin the blame on anything but their faulty play. Carmelo isn't wrong in thinking "There was no strategy to me being here." The Oklahoma Thunder looked anything but a cohesive unit, led by a ball-hungry point guard and far too many isolation sets.
Maybe the issue with Carmelo's thinking is the insertion of "me." His personal success is perhaps too important for him to set aside. He is owed $28 million next season, after which he is free to explore his options. I'll leave it in your hands to decide what qualities are expected of a first-unit player in today's NBA.