Starting over: Anthony set with Blazers and jersey No. 00

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Carmelo Anthony, Justin Holiday

FILE – In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony, left, drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls forward Justin Holiday during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago. A person familiar with the details says Anthony is returning to the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers. The 10-time All-Star has not played since a short stint with the Rockets ended a little more than a year ago after just 10 games. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony is now with the Portland Trail Blazers and starting over with jersey No. 00.

Word that the 10-time All-Star had joined the team broke Thursday night, but the agreement was not formalized until Tuesday when he signed a nonguaranteed contract that goes through January. If he stays, the contract becomes guaranteed for the rest of the season.

Anthony was in the starting lineup for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night in New Orleans.

Anthony hasn’t played since a 10-game stint with the Houston Rockets ended a little more than a year ago. But the Blazers hope there is enough game left in the 35-year-old forward to help them overcome a 5-9 start.

“Carmelo is an established star in this league that will provide a respected presence in our locker room and a skill set at a position of need on the floor,” Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations, said in a statement.

Anthony struggled at the end of his recent stops in Oklahoma City and Houston following 6½ seasons in New York. He continued to work out with NBA players, and his many friends and supporters insisted he was still good enough to play in the league.

Now he will get a chance to prove it. Anthony posted a video on his YouTube channel explaining his decision.

“I always kept an eye on Portland,” he said. “It just didn’t work out at other times, but now it seems like it’s a perfect opportunity.”

Anthony was acquired by the Chicago Bulls from Houston on Jan. 21, with the intention of trading him before the deadline or letting him go. He averaged 13.4 points in 10 games with the Rockets last season, but the team quickly decided Anthony wasn’t the right fit with the system they play under Mike D’Antoni.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist can still score — he ranks among the top 20 on the NBA’s career list — but his preferred style of doing it has been replaced by a faster game that exposes his defensive weaknesses.

Anthony was traded by Oklahoma City to Atlanta in July 2018, a move that preceded the Hawks releasing him to sign with the Rockets. The Bulls, technically, were his fourth franchise in seven months.

Eight of Anthony’s 10 appearances for the Rockets came off the bench after the No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft had started all 1,054 games he’d played in his first 15 NBA seasons. He has averaged 24 points in 16 seasons.

Anthony fills a need for the Blazers, who are short-handed at forward. Zach Collins recently had shoulder surgery that is expected to keep him out for at least four months. Rodney Hood was bothered by back spasms.

Center Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg last March and isn’t expected back until after the new year. Pau Gasol was signed by the Blazers in the offseason and is still rehabbing from foot surgery.

The Blazers were reportedly interested in Anthony in the summer of 2017. Portland guard CJ McCollum tried to woo him with a photoshopped Instagram post that showed the future Hall of Famer in a Blazers jersey.

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This story has been corrected to show that Nurkic broke his leg in March, not October.

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AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed to this report.

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