Tonight, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski told the world that the ailing Portland Trail Blazers—depleted by injuries and stumbling through the season, racking up embarrassing loss after embarrassing loss—have finally deemed it necessary to seek the services of future Basketball Hall of Famer Carmelo Kyam Anthony on a small, non-guaranteed contract.
The Blazers didn't make this signing because they've been bad. They did it because they were already shallow at the forward position coming into the year, and then became catastrophically shallow once Zach Collins went down with a shoulder injury. Carmelo, in addition to being famous and beloved, is more or less the best free-agent power forward available.
The range of basketball outcomes here is pretty wide. Melo was not great on the Rockets last year and apparently looked a little rough in workouts this summer. Expecting that he will mutate into the Melo of Days Olde and jab-step the fuck out of the Blazers' enemies feels deeply unlikely. But he's always been a natural small-ball four—even if he's had trouble accepting that about himself—and a great player is getting plugged into the void that Collins left behind isn't the strangest thing that's happened in the history of the NBA. He might be a little washed, but considering that Anthony Tolliver looks like he's ready to cough up blood out there, you have to make the beautiful leap and hope that Melo might have something left in the tank.
And if he doesn't? That's fine! There is no more compelling move the Blazers can make in November with no cap room. And guess what? Carmelo is cool and fun. He takes weird shots. He wears deeply bizarre outfits, especially hats. He is perpetually cranky. Not to mention, destiny has been aiming at this for a long time.
Melo began his career in Denver, in the Rocky Mountains that forged the identity of so many antsy, arty boys. He moved to New York, where his time with the Knicks was laden with disaster after disaster. From there, Oklahoma City, where he wasn't great. Then to Houston, where he, like so many oilmen before him, looked for gold in a godforsaken desert and turned up short.
Where does the man who comes from the mountains looking for more, washes out of the high-end metropolitan lifestyle and fails at rural self-sustainability inevitably end up? Portland goddamn Oregon—the washout capital of the world, where the people who failed out of New York after learning that worldly success is mind-poison kick back and learn that life is for living, not for getting trapped in a rat-race that drains you of your heart.
Melo has been waiting for the Portland lifestyle his whole career. It's a city full of goofy hats waiting to be worn. The new citywide sport will be tracking and gossiping where you saw Melo eating, and telling everyone what he ate.
"I saw him at Tusk, sharing a salad with some absurdly beautiful woman. I had no idea who she was."
"He was at Canard, just housing steam burgers with like six other guys."
"I think I saw him at Ground Kontrol, beating a guy at Street Fighter 2. It was him or LeBron, I'm sure of that." "He walked out of Ken's with like 10 baguettes. Also I think he was talking to Michael Clayton?"
Look, I have no real idea if Melo will be good for the Blazers. It's a longshot they had to take, and hopefully it shores up their newly terrible, untenable roster that needs massive changes if they're going to make the playoffs, much less go to a Conference Finals again. But at the very least you'll get to see him on the grind, and finally be able to buy his shirsey from many fine clothiers around the city.
If it works, the Blazers will get better. If not—hey, Melo is on the Blazers! That's wild, dude! Life is for living, baby!