Carmelo Anthony has been cagey regarding his no-trade clause. This is a list of possible destinations/packages that could pry the star away from NYC.
Carmelo Anthony, 31, has made headlines for reasons other than the ones he would probably prefer. First, a hullabaloo was made over Anthony’s expressed disappointment in his lack of a championship pedigree in comparison to three of his draft-mates and best friends: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Then, at the All-Star Game, a reporter asked him if there were any destinations for which he would waive his no-trade clause. He responded, ”I better not answer that” with a smile, the first hint that Melo may really want to leave New York after all, despite battering away questions and accusations for the entire year since signing a five-year max contract last summer which lasts through his age 36 season.
Let’s take this speculation a little bit further, and flesh out some of the most realistic trade destinations and packages that could pry Melo away from New York, scenarios that make sense not only for both teams but for the players involved as well. Without further ado…
1. To the Clippers for Blake Griffin
This is both the most likely option, and the option that makes the most sense. Everyone knows that Carmelo and his wife LaLa want to be in a big city. It is also widely known that Los Angeles is their home away from home. The Clippers have a disgruntled star in Blake Griffin, but also have another true superstar in Chris Paul who happens to be one of Carmelo’s best friends and is on the same age trajectory. This would provide Melo the ability to compete right away, live in LA, and play with one of his superstar best friends, something he’s been yearning for since getting drafted in 2003. With a core of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and DeAndre Jordan, and Doc Rivers’ pulling the strings, there is no doubt that the Clippers would be a contender, even in the West amidst Golden State’s and San Antonio’s dominance.
2. To the Celtics for Brooklyn’s 2016 first round pick, Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder, and Terry Rozier
Boston has been turning over every stone in search of its franchise superstar, which is seemingly the only thing this team needs to earn true contender status. As such, the Celtics are playing at an extremely high level, good for third in the East, and will be a nightmare for whoever has to play them in the postseason thanks to wunderkind head coach Brad Stevens.
While prying both Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder away in a hypothetical deal seems unlikely, one of them is probably on the table, and the Celtics are rife with other assets and young talent, including Brooklyn’s unprotected first round pick this year, which could yield projected first overall pick Ben Simmons of LSU. Inserting Melo to replace Amir Johnson at the starting five would certainly skyrocket this team to the upper echelon, but it remains to be seen if that roster and the city of Boston would be ‘enough’ for Melo.
3. To the Heat for Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside, and picks
While many believe it exceedingly unlikely that Pat Riley parts with his new toy, in possible steal of the 2015 draft Justise Winslow, one can’t deny that he’s never been fond of draft picks, regularly shipping them out to reboot and reload during the LeBron era and before at other stops. Many view Whiteside as a head case, and he was linked to the Rockets before the trade deadline. He’s also a free agent at the end of the season.
This deal doesn’t match the salary necessary to pry Melo away, but by tossing in waivable contracts, I’m sure these teams could work out a deal. The better question is if Miami would even consider this deal without getting a center back, but if Robin Lopez could be included this may be an all-systems-go situation. After all, Miami is a premier destination, and the Heat always find themselves in a competitive spot, even after losing LeBron James.
4. To the Lakers for Julius Randle, Nick Young, and a 2016 first round pick
Again, this scenario has the uneven contract issues, but tossing in Nick Young and other roster flotsam could make it work. We already know how much Melo loves Los Angeles, and the chance to play for a Lakers franchise with tons of cap space that could reload ferociously this summer is not half bad in terms of contender status, and probably more appealing than staying with the downtrodden Knicks. It would be impossible for the Knicks to get DeAngelo Russell in all likelihood after the rookie has turned on the jets after the All-Star break, but the lottery picks that sandwich him could be on the table. The Knicks should jump at this opportunity should it be an option.
5. Chicago for Derrick Rose, Bobby Portis, and Doug McDermott
After the Bulls heavily pursued Anthony last summer, we know that Chicago is on Melo’s short list of acceptable cities to live and play in. This team’s one shining beacon for the future is Jimmy Butler, with whom Carmelo could make a lethal pair.
Rose’s salary makes this doable, and the ex-MVP is seemingly headed for divorce with the team that drafted him with first overall back in 2008 after a slew of surgeries, but the Bulls would certainly have to toss in some more young talent to make the deal viable, especially since Rose has only one more year on his contract. If the Bulls were to take a young point guard like Kris Dunn in the draft, a starting five of Dunn-Butler-Melo-Mirotic-Noah/Gibson doesn’t look half bad, but this deal is again probably not enough to get Melo to waive his no-trade clause.
6. Three-way: Cleveland gets Anthony; Boston gets Kevin Love; New York gets Brooklyn’s 2016 pick, Avery Bradley, and Iman Shumpert
Now for the dream. While a Kevin Durant sign-and-trade may be the loftiest dream, everyone knows Melo isn’t moving to Oklahoma City and definitely not to play for Billy Donovan with just one guaranteed year of Russell Westbrook. The dream scenario for them, asides from KD and Griffin, is probably to get Brooklyn’s pick in this draft and some more young talent, while sending Carmelo to Cleveland to chase rings with his buddy LeBron James. This offer moves disgruntled star Kevin Love to the Celtics who have been so enamored by him for years. In this three-team trade, the salaries work out, and everyone wins, so long as James actually wants to play with Anthony. That’s a big ‘if,’ but it could lead to a sea change in the NBA and drastically alter the landscape going forward.
As of now, there is no indication that Anthony will leave. But if Melo lives through another year without the playoffs — assuming the Knicks won’t participate this year, which is nearly statistically certain — or even a first round exit next year would probably be enough to scare Melo out of wasting the back end of his prime in New York. Knicks fans can hope only to move Melo’s contract for open cap space and some sort of asset while they still can. No one will offer anything for a 35 year old on a $25+ million contract in his final years.
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