Carmelo Anthony says there's no question he still belongs in the NBA ... and claims his absence from the league is more about politics than talent.
35-year-old Anthony has been out of the league since he was cut from the Houston Rockets back in November ... and there's been a public campaign by his NBA peers to get him back in the league ever since.
Melo sat down with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's "First Take" on Friday to discuss rumors of wanting a "farewell tour" similar to Dwyane Wade's last season in the league ... and he says that's simply not true ... because he's still got a lot left in the tank.
"I feel like I still can play, I know I still can play. My peers know I still can play," Melo says.
"I don't think it's about basketball anymore. I think it's about me as a person willing to accept certain roles on basketball teams. Am i willing to accept a certain role on a basketball team? Yes."
Melo says he was willing to accept smaller roles with OKC and Houston ... but got cut from the Rockets before he could prove he was willing to come off the bench.
"That's major, major ego hits. So, that was a whirlwind for me over that year and a half. But, I got to a point in Houston where I can accept that, I'm going to do that."
Melo says he "1,000%" believes he's gotten a bad rep with people inside the league ... but makes it very clear he's not giving up.