The smoke surrounding a potential pursuit of Carmelo Anthony might not necessarily lead to any fire for the Boston Celtics.
All eyes shifted to Anthony after the Celtics announced last week that Danilo Gallinari had been diagnosed with a torn ACL, but the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy believes the Celtics ultimately could steer clear of the high-profile free agent for one simple reason: Defense.
“I don’t think they’re at all interested in Carmelo, for example,” Murphy recently said on NBC Sports Boston’s “Celtics Talk Podcast.” “I think what it comes down to is they don’t want to sacrifice their defensive principles. You have to either be able to defend. I’m not sure what it would look like the first time Melo had to switch onto a point guard.”
Anthony admittedly has made strides on the defensive end in recent years, including last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s still known more for his scoring prowess than his ability to prevent buckets. The Celtics, meanwhile, rode an elite, switch-heavy defense to the NBA Finals in their first season under head coach Ime Udoka. So, it’s entirely possible they’ll pass on Anthony despite rumors and speculation linking Boston to the 10-time All-Star.
In fact, Murphy’s colleague at the Boston Herald, Steve Hewitt, last week downplayed the possibility of the Celtics targeting Anthony in wake of Gallinari’s injury.
“But according to a league source, the C’s aren’t in a hurry to make a deal or sign Anthony, and they’re interested in taking a look at all of their internal depth options, including Mfiondu Kabengele and Luke Kornet,” Hewitt wrote.
Gallinari’s injury — suffered while playing for Italy in a FIBA World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Aug. 27 — is a tough blow for the Celtics, as the 34-year-old was expected to give Boston some size and shooting off the bench after signing as a free agent this summer. Bringing in Anthony certainly makes sense in that he’d provide much of the same, especially having developed into a really good 3-point shooter, but it’s certainly fair to question whether he’d completely buy into the Celtics’ system on the defensive end.
All told, the Celtics might just see what they have toward the end of their roster before really considering Anthony. And if they like what they see from their in-house options, particularly on defense, they could end up avoiding the 38-year-old star altogether.