PHILADELPHIA — David Fizdale never got the opportunity to coach Carmelo Anthony, but he knows him well, having been a part of the Miami Heat championship teams that included Anthony’s friends LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Even if he wasn’t the one who gave Anthony a chance to return to the NBA, he was happy to see it happen.
“I’m so happy for him,” Fizdale said. “He should be back and I’m happy for him. And he’s on a playoff team. He’s going to get a chance to play playoff basketball again. I’m really happy for him and I wish him well.”
It might take some throwback performances from Anthony for the Trail Blazers to be a playoff team this season. They currently are 5-10, in 14th place in the Western Conference and decimated by injuries. In Anthony’s hasty debut Tuesday, stepping into the starting lineup after more than a year away from the NBA without the benefit of even practicing with the team, Portland was without Damian Lillard and dealing with the lengthy injuries to Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. Pau Gasol was waived Wednesday, unable to rehabilitate a foot injury and get back on the court.
Anthony shot 4-for-14 in his debut, scoring 10 points and turning the ball over five times.
“Yeah, that’s a tough ask to come fresh off the pine and jump into an NBA game,” Fizdale said. “But he’ll get his legs underneath him and he’ll help them win games.”
Anthony did join many of the Knicks players in pickup games before training camp in New York this past summer.
“It was great,” Fizdale said. “He grabbed a couple of our young guys, was giving them pointers and stuff like that. I’ve got a real affection for Melo. All of those guys in that class I’m really close to them — the Bosh class, Wade, Melo, LeBron. I’m close to all of those guys. To see him back playing I think all of us are really happy for him.”