In one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history, there’s one thing that has somehow remained constant: Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the New York Knicks. Anthony has slogged through half of his career in NY, and the Knicks seem content with sitting back and waiting for the right deal to jettison their star player. After completing a trade to bring in Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets quickly arose as a potential trade candidate. That deal hasn’t happened yet though. As a result, the Portland Trail Blazers have ramped up efforts to land Anthony.
Jason McIntyre of FS1 tweeted this on Thursday morning:
Carmelo Anthony's people are trying a Hail Mary attempt to get him to Houston (Knicks won't do it) ... before he accepts a deal to Portland
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) September 21, 2017
It comes as a bit of a surprise, as the forward has a no-trade clause. Anthony accepting a trade to Portland would contradict an earlier story -- claiming Melo would only waive the clause for a trade to the Rockets. His friendship with Paul is well documented, and he’s very familiar with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.
If we’re to believe McIntyre’s tweet, it means Melo clearly had a change of heart. Anthony and his team may have come to the realization that the Rockets simply don’t have the pieces to get the deal done.
Houston is tied up with Ryan Anderson’s enormous contract, and the Knicks surely wouldn’t want to take on a 3-year deal of that magnitude in any trade. Finding a third-team suitor for Anderson’s deal is easier said than done. Eric Gordon could be another trade candidate, but dealing the 2017 Sixth Man of the Year would gut Houston’s depth.
Trading either Anderson or Gordon would also cause harm to D’Antoni’s system, as both are excellent marksman tasked with spreading the floor for Paul and James Harden. The Rockets would prefer to keep their core intact while bringing in Melo. Complicating the matter further, Houston doesn't have any future pieces or valuable draft picks to include in a deal.
The seed of doubt must have turned Anthony’s attention to other options. Portland doesn’t have quite the roster Houston does, but they have two stars of their own in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
For Portland, a potential deal makes a whole lot of sense. The only knockdown shooter on their roster last year – Allen Crabbe – is now in Brooklyn. Teams would often sag off the likes of Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu to provide help on Lillard and McCollum – and the pair of forwards often obliged by throwing up bricks. Anthony has proven he can be lethal in spot-up situations from his time with the United States Olympic Team. It’s the same theory the Warriors used when replacing Harrison Barnes with Kevin Durant. Even if Anthony does exactly what Harkless and Aminu do on offense (stand in the corner and wait), he will already be a massive upgrade.
From Anthony’s perspective, it’s a potential career-rejuvenating move. He’s still a gifted scorer, but doesn’t have the same lift or explosion to carry a team through an 82-game season. His willingness to go to Houston proves that he’s fine with being a third-option. The Trailblazers with Lillard, McCollum, Anthony and emerging center Jusuf Nurkic would instantly be a playoff team in the West -- perhaps even as the fifth-best team in the conference behind the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets and Thunder.
After going through six-and-a-half seasons in New York, Melo moving on from the Knicks to a competent and accomplished front office could do wonders for his career.
Sources: Twitter/Jasonrmcintyre, CBSSports