Chris Paul has a message for the haters: Leave Melo alone.
The Rockets point guard defended his new teammate and friend on Friday during a segment on ESPN's The Jump, in which Paul expressed disbelief over the criticism Carmelo Anthony receives.
"Obviously I'm a little biased because that's one of my closest friends," Paul said. "But you know, the disrespect that comes at him at times is unbelievable, you know what I mean? So for us, having one of the best players to ever play the game on our team is a no-brainer."
Anthony, 34, was signed as a free agent by the Rockets in August after he was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks before quickly being waived.
The former Knicks star joins a Rockets team that is coming off a 65-win season and fell one game shy of advancing to the NBA Finals last year.
Anthony, however, is coming off the worst statistical season of his career. The 10-time All-Star averaged 16.2 points per game and a .404 shooting percentage from the field, both career lows.
The main concern about Anthony is how he will fit in with the Rockets, who have big-time scorers in Paul and James Harden and if he will be used in a reduced role.
There is also concern about a reunion with head coach Mike D'Antoni, whom Anthony had a rocky relationship during their time together with the Knicks. Although D'Antoni has said Anthony will be a "better fit" with the Rockets and Paul echoed that sentiment.
"I think we just hoop," Paul said. "I think that's been the cool thing about bringing in different players that have played in different systems. Hell, me last year. I came into a different situation. I had seen it. Coach had talked about it. But it's a different thing to play within the system.
"With Melo, we just hoop, you know what I mean? If you're open you shoot it. If not, you pass it, you dribble-it's a fun way to play basketball."