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When Carmelo Anthony makes his expected Portland Trail Blazers debut on Tuesday night in New Orleans, Jamal Crawford will be back in the Pacific Northwest, tweaking his daily workout routine to mix in some TV time.

Crawford typically heads to the gym twice daily in Seattle to keep himself sharp while waiting for the kind of call Anthony just got from the Trail Blazers. But some games in mid-November are must-watch — and Blazers at Pelicans suddenly qualifies as worthy of schedule shuffling.

“I’m rooting for Melo big time,” Crawford said.

Like Anthony, Crawford has no shortage of supporters openly wondering when he will be summoned back to the N.B.A. No less a legend than Bill Russell tweeted in support of Crawford on Nov. 8, tacking on the hashtag: #getthismanajob.

Crawford turns 40 in March, but admitted he was “shocked” his phone didn’t ring with more interest in the off-season after his 2018-19 stint with the Phoenix Suns. He didn’t have a job with the Suns, either, until the night before the regular season started — but Crawford finished the campaign with a 51-point flourish in Dallas on April 9.

It was one of the most remarkable regular-season finales in league history. In Dirk Nowitzki’s last home game of his Hall of Fame-worthy run with the Dallas Mavericks, in which he scored 30 points on 31 shots before closing out his career the next night in San Antonio, Crawford arguably upstaged him. In Game 82 for the Suns, Crawford scored 51 points on 30 shots in 38 minutes 8 seconds — off the bench.

From a selfish perspective, it was the sort of one-of-a-kind occasion that helped me make up for some internal conflict that still lingers from the final day of the 2015-16 season. I was in Oakland, Calif., that night to see the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies and clinch a record-breaking 73rd victory against just nine losses, but that meant I could not be in Los Angeles to see Kobe Bryant score 60 points on 50 shots in his Lakers farewell after 20 seasons.

The stark difference from that wild and unforgettable occasion, of course, is that everyone knew Bryant was retiring before he walked onto the Staples Center floor and proceeded to riddle the Utah Jazz for sixty. Crawford does not want to retire.

In a phone interview, he made it clear that he remained determined to find a new team and rejected the notion that walking away after such a monumental game, à la Kobe, would make for the perfect send-off.

“I know that it was historic in a bunch of ways,” Crawford said of a performance that made him the oldest 50-point scorer in league history, as well as the first to do so as a reserve — and to do it with four franchises (Suns, Warriors, Knicks, Bulls).

“But I honestly thought more so along the lines of: ‘I’m re-energized. I’m ready for the next chapter.’”

Crawford’s detractors assert that he is bound to surrender more points defensively than he could ever score at this stage of his career. But he doesn’t fire back at them. Insistent on positivity even though this is the first November since his lone collegiate season at Michigan in 1999-2000 in which he did not hold an N.B.A. job, Crawford appears to have taken on the role of spokesman for the various veteran free agents who, like him, have been unable to find a new employer since last season.

“Take myself out of it,” Crawford said, before proceeding to list several peers in a similar bind: Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and J.R. Smith. Crawford also mentioned Jeremy Lin, who signed with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association when he could not land an N.B.A. contract over the summer.

“You still have a ton of quality guys out there,” Crawford said. “That’s something that’s a little alarming for me.”

The past week, though, has been a source of encouragement. The Nets signed Iman Shumpert in response to Caris LeVert’s need for surgery on his right thumb. Then the Blazers, however desperate they looked at 4-8 when their Anthony interest went public, ended Melo’s yearlong wait for an opportunity to go out in circumstances more befitting of a 25,551-point scorer.

Things are starting to happen for the veteran set.

“I honestly don’t think it’s anything personal,” Crawford said of the fact that he remains unsigned. “Obviously I can still play.”

When I jokingly reminded Crawford that he’s averaging 51 points in his last one game played, he quickly volunteered: “And I averaged 31 points for the month of April. I just had the highest scoring month in my whole career after not really playing that much all year.”

It’s true. The Suns went 2-2 in April in the four games Crawford played, with the three-time winner of the N.B.A.’s Sixth Man Award scoring 19, 28, 27 and, yes, 51.

Crawford understands that he is not guaranteed a Melo moment. He knows — as Anthony surely grasps better than any vet looking for work — that prospective teams are generally more inclined to focus on the things that free agents in their twilight years can no longer do rather than what they still can.

Yet Crawford refused to believe that Melo was out of options after his Houston flameout. Nor is he listening to anyone who suggests that all 30 N.B.A. teams’ doors are closed to him.

“In my heart of hearts, I feel like it’ll happen,” Crawford said. “I just don’t know when.”

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You ask; I answer. Every week in this space, I’ll field three questions posed via email at marcstein-newsletter@nytimes.com. (Please include your first and last name, as well as the city you’re writing in from, and make sure “Corner Three” is in the subject line.)

Q: Are the Heat for real? — John McDonald

Stein: I’m not totally sure what your definition of “real” is. But I’m answering yes.

I was confident Jimmy Butler would be a stealth candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award on South Beach because he was destined to flourish with such strong backing from the Miami leadership duo of Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.

I also had a strong feeling Goran Dragic would fare well in his new role off the bench — which is why I picked him as my Sixth Man Award favorite coming into the season.

But I would be fibbing in the extreme if I told you that I anticipated Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo quickly establishing themselves as top contenders for rookie of the year (Nunn) and most improved player (Adebayo) honors. Nunn’s rise was forecast by precisely no one — and Adebayo has responded to his failure to make U.S.A. Basketball’s squad for the FIBA World Cup in China in the best manner possible. We so often talk about the boost players get after playing for the national team; it appears, in Bam’s case, that the snub was a spark.

The East has actually been deeper than advertised, with Boston off to such a strong start and Toronto following up its championship run by stubbornly refusing to pout over Kawhi Leonard’s free-agent defection to the Los Angeles Clippers. But Miami clearly looks like top-five material — with Butler sure to be offended that I didn’t say top-three.

Q: Is the Celtics’ great start really as simple as just swapping Kyrie Irving for Kemba Walker? It also feels like they benefited from getting rid of a gunner like Terry Rozier. Now they don’t have quite so many guys who need the ball. — Sam Chadwick

Stein: It is not that simple, Sam. It rarely is.

But there’s no denying that all the tension and questions surrounding Kyrie’s leadership qualities and his impending free agency last season foisted a weight upon the Celtics that is noticeably absent this season. It’s an undeniably happier group.

It’s too easy, though, to pin the middling seasons of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown solely on the Kyrie Factor. Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart have all seized bigger roles, but they’ve got to own their share of Boston’s struggles last season.

We should also throw in the usual disclaimer about how early it is to draw conclusions. I think Brad Stevens would readily concede that the Celtics have also benefited from what ESPN ranked as the league’s fifth-easiest schedule in terms of opponent winning percentage (.468) through Sunday’s games.

But the opening-month returns in Boston are certainly encouraging. As much as Brown resisted my attempts in October to paint all that time he spent in China with Walker, Tatum and Smart as a huge head start for the post-Kyrie Celtics, it sure appears to have helped.

Q: How antsy is Dallas is to bring in a bona fide third star? A lot of voices around the league seem to think it’s a necessity, but this obsession seems ill-conceived, especially when talking about Dallas. The Mavericks have a plethora of solid role players, like Delon Wright, Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry. — Andrew Hudgins

Stein: I don’t sense that the Mavericks are antsy at all in this regard. They believe they can make the playoffs as constructed and won’t rush the search for the so-called Next Michael Finley to complement the modern answer to Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.

If there is any uneasiness in Dallas at the moment — meaning within the organization — it centers on the ups and downs of Kristaps Porzingis’s comeback and trying to fast-track some chemistry in the former Knick’s partnership with Luka Doncic.

The Mavericks aren’t going to worry about a third star until they have a clearer picture of how Doncic and Porzingis will function at their peak as a duo. And they are still figuring things out.

As covered last week, Dallas wants to deploy Porzingis differently than he has ever been used, asking him to keep himself stationed beyond the 3-point line for long stretches and make floor-spacing a nightly priority. It has been a significant adjustment for Porzingis, who is also still getting his legs underneath him after missing 20 months after a serious knee injury.

You’re right about the supporting cast, though. Coming into the season, I remember hearing a lot of skepticism from rival talent evaluators about dependable depth being a problem for Dallas in its quest to return to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. I frankly questioned it, too. That hasn’t been a problem yet.

The Mavericks have a number of quality role players. They could certainly use an additional shooter or two, but who couldn’t?

Portland’s signing of Carmelo Anthony will take the number of active players from the league’s 2003 draft class from two to three. The No. 1 overall pick LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) and No. 51 selection Kyle Korver (Milwaukee) are the only others still playing. Anthony was chosen third among 60 draftees.

James Harden is averaging 39.2 points per game for the Rockets this season — despite shooting what would represent a career-low 34.0 percent from 3-point range. Harden’s heavy usage inevitably turns some fans off, but it’s difficult to quibble when the Rockets — who began the season with no shortage of skeptics after trading for Russell Westbrook — have won eight games in a row.

Only twice has a player averaged 40 points per game or better for an entire season: Wilt Chamberlain both times in 1961-62 (50.4 P.P.G.) and 1962-63 (44.8 P.P.G.)

The hosts for four last-chance qualifying tournaments for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament in Japan next summer, as chosen by FIBA, are Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia and Canada. Each of those four countries will host a six-team group that will send its winner to Tokyo. The draws for the four mini-tournaments will be held by FIBA on Nov. 27.

The eight countries that have already claimed spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball field are: Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Nigeria, Spain, the United States and the host Japan.

A bonus sixth entry this week: Sacramento (0-5) and Indiana (0-3) combined for an 0-8 start after the teams shared a preseason trip to faraway India — but both clubs have rallied for a 13-5 record since. The Kings are 5-2 this month, and the Pacers have won eight of their past 11 games despite their ongoing wait for the return of the All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. A knee injury has sidelined Oladipo since Jan. 23.



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