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Grande On Toucher & Rich: Forget The Past, Melo Is Now An Elite Player

BOSTON (CBS) -- Back in March, just before Carmelo Anthony would torch the Celtics for 34 points in one of their 57 losses of the season, Celtics radio play-by-play man Sean Grande threw out the idea of the Celtics signing Carmelo in the off-season.

Melo can opt out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks, and after a 37-win season and endless criticism in New York, chances are the seven-time All-Star will likely hit the open market in a couple of weeks.

Many Celtics fans have spoken out against bringing Melo to Boston, noting his selfish play on the offensive end and lack of a defensive game. But Grande sees Anthony as a special talent, and if the Celtics have a chance to start a quick rebuild around him, they shouldn't think twice.

"I brought this up for the first time – the crazy idea of Melo-(Kevin) Love -- only because everyone was talking about the draft and going through (the slow rebuild) for another year. Chances are that's what this is going to be, but nobody in March was talking about what everyone is talking about now; the fact the Celtics are in the game for a quicker rebuild because of the assets they have," Grande told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on Monday.

"I think what separates teams is to see players for what they are going to be and not what they were earlier in their career. I flash back to 2007 when I was saying the same things about Kevin Garnett and everyone thought I was crazy back then because the perception of KG wasn't the same in '07 as it was after," he recalled. "I remember saying if 81 percent of the people were against Garnett, from a famous Boston Herald poll from 2007, what would that number be for Anthony because of the perception of him?

"If there is ever an opportunity to get a top 10, top 12 player with the second half of his career in front of him, you have to do it. You have to start looking at Carmelo not for the kid he was five or six years ago, but the elite player he is now," Grande said of the 2013 NBA scoring champ.

"Here's what I would do: I'd turn the clock back and ask in 2005-06, what was the league-wide perception of Paul Pierce? I would say a couple things about Carmelo Anthony," said Grande. "I see a guy who wants to play the right way and an elite NBA player who wants to win. He's getting to that point in his career -- there is that NBA player biological clock. Paul Pierce was going through this too, because he was a handful until Doc Rivers got here. Then he began morphing his game even before Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen got here.

"I see that in Melo," said Grande. "You say Carmelo Anthony and there's that Pavlovian reflex reaction to think of the things that happened to him off the court and the perception of him off the court. I don't think people have watched his game as closely over the last years, and I really think there are very few players in the world like Carmelo Anthony. He wants to win, and I think that will come first for him."

Earlier this off-season, a Kevin Love trade was the hot rumor for the Celtics. But as Minnesota gets ready to shop their star player, it appears that despite their treasure trove of young talent and draft picks, the Celtics may be outbid by teams with veteran players to offer like the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. Because of this, Grande thinks Anthony is a more likely off-season addition for Boston, and it may be a sign-and-trade with New York that lures him here.

"My opinion is that it makes more sense for the Knicks to make a deal like that with the Celtics than it does for Minnesota. There is that perception in New York that they have to constantly try to contend. People overlook the savvy of the fans in New York; they want to win and I think they'd be willing to rebuild if it was done the proper way. The Knicks don't have the young assets and draft picks, and that's what the Celtics have a ton of," explained Grande. "Picks aren't as attractive to Minnesota as they could be with people who know how the NBA really works in New York like Phil Jackson."

Would a locker room with both Rajon Rondo and Carmelo Anthony be able to live in perfect harmony? Listen below:

Sean Grande On Toucher and Rich


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