We’ve come to the point in the season where every game – be it a demoralizing loss or a crazy unexpected thriller like Saturday – might just be Carmelo Anthony’s last in a New York Knicks jersey.
While the Cavs and the Clippers were quick to shoot down any trade options that would involve a member of their respective “Big Threes”, the Boston Globe recently reported that Anthony would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the Celtics in Beantown. Head coach Brad Stevens is a fan of Melo’s game and even though their General Manager Danny Ainge has shot down all of the Knicks’ offers so far, the Celtics have more than the right combination of young players and draft assets to make a trade feasible. With Cleveland looking more and more vulnerable and Boston fans impatient after years of Ainge letting the trade deadline pass them by, it’s just possible that they end up caving by February 23rd.
What’s more interesting, though, is now that Anthony has indicated he’d be willing to move to a non-banana boat team, is who else might get into these trade sweepstakes. The Thunder were reportedly interested in pairing Melo with Russell Westbrook after months of calling the Kings about Rudy Gay, and do have some intriguing young players on the roster. It seems extremely unlikely that Carmelo and his wife La La would agree to leave New York for the hustle and bustle of Oklahoma City but it speaks to the number of “pseudo contenders” who might be interested in the next two years of Anthony’s contract.
Now, the threat of the Golden State Warriors does make the idea of sacrificing assets for Carmelo a little more unpalatable in the Western Conference. (Outside of the proposed travesty that would allow the Clippers to attain Carmelo for Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers). However, it’s again important to note just how out of sorts the Cavs have looked recently, going 4-6 in their last ten games with some pretty depressing losses to the Kings and a Pelicans team without Anthony Davis. Lebron is frustrated with ownership, Tristan Thompson is clapping back, and the whole team seems to be relying on the fact that there will be some veteran buyout they can pick up that will transform their entire season. Talks are already underway in Boston, but it’s also easy to envision Toronto looking at Anthony to fill their void at power forward, or the Hawks salivating at playing Melo next to Paul Millsap and creating a devastating frontcourt. Hell, even the Wizards could get in on the conversation. They spend a lot of their time propping up their bench units with Markieff Morris as it is, and having Carmelo at the 4 would give some crazy extra spaced floor for John Wall-Marcin Gortat pick and rolls. For all of these teams, it’s not necessarily about beating the Warriors and winning a championship. Having a chance to take down Lebron and make the Finals alone would make the trade well worth it.
Whatever the return for Melo is, it probably won’t be much. He’s simply too old, too overpaid, and too much of a liability on defense to warrant the kind of return that New York gave up to get him in the first place. As more and more teams join the mix, though, it becomes increasingly likely both that he will be moved and that the Knicks might just get back something of value. A late first, a young rotation player, and the chance to give one of the franchise’s all-time best players a chance to compete for a championship. It’s not exactly sexy, but it’s something to help build the future on.