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Melo: “I’m not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out of the question.”

Carmelo Anthony was a lightning rod for criticism in his first season in Oklahoma City, as he failed to smoothly transition into a role as the Thunder’s third (and then fourth) fiddle. The 15-year veteran averaged a career-low 16.2 PPG, shooting just 40 percent from the floor and 35 percent from downtown in the process. He was particularly ineffective in the postseason, scoring 11.8 PPG on 37 percent shooting and 19 percent from deep.

Speaking to reporters at Saturday’s Thunder exit interviews, Melo sounded off on the season, his role, utilization, and his willingness to come off the bench for OKC next season. Some of his comments:

On his role in OKC:

“I think the player they wanted me to be and needed me to be was for the sake of this season. It was just thrown together more than anything that was planned out. There wasn’t no strategy to me being here, me be apart of the actual system and what type of player….things like that. As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role. I think I bring a bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgable with what I still can do on a basketball team.”

On his style of play:

“I became what I am by playing the way I play and establishing a style of play throughout my career. Now it’s about figuring out what is the best way to implement that game into what we’re trying to create.”

On his sacrifice this season and moving forward:

“For me, my focus will be on kind of figuring out what I want out of the rest of my career. What I want in my future. What I’m willing to accept and if I’m willing to accept that at all. I think everybody knows I’ve sacrificed damn near everything and was willing to sacrifice nearly everything — family, moving here myself, sacrifice my game for the sake of the team. I was willing to sacrifice anything and everything for this situation to work out. So it’s something I really have to think about and if I really want to be this type of player and finish out my career as this type of player knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball… and how long I want to continue to do this, that’s a thought process as well.”

On potentially coming off the bench:

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out the question.”

Well OK then.

It certainly doesn’t sound like Melo has enjoyed his time in Oklahoma City, but he stopped short of saying he planned to opt-out of his $27.9 million player option. In fact, he mentioned “next season” several times, but did say players have to do what’s best for themselves and their family.

While Melo’s future is a bit unclear, what is clear is that he’s looking for more of a prominent role next season. Despite playing like a hollowed out version of his former self, he remains attached to the idea that he’s more than a marginalized catch-and-shoot threat. I don’t really feel like he has much of a grasp on what things actually looked like this season, but if there’s anything positive it’s that he waited until after it ended to officially tell us what we already knew.

This will be a very interesting summer.

Full video of his interview via Daily Thunder’s Andrew Schlecht: