When Carmelo Anthony finally is involved in an NBA trade out of New York, it will be anti-climatic – whether it be to the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers or Boston Celtics.
Carmelo has been involved in every trade rumor under the sun for two years now, and has been on the brink of being dealt to Houston about 23 different times in the past month alone. Here is the latest regarding a Carmelo trade.
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Most likely: Houston Rockets
When Phil Jackson was running the Knicks, he seemed willing to part with Carmelo for any bloated contract in the league and a lost trader Tex Winter Triangle Offense instructional VHS tape. The new Knicks administration under Scott Perry, however, is rightfully trying to get the best possible package in return for the scoring machine, as they want young players (and/or picks) and want no part of Ryan Anderson’s fat deal.
If a trade mercifully goes down this week, it will surely be a three-deal swap. The problem, of course, is finding a third team to facilitate such a deal. Celtics boss Danny Ainge was once in the business of facilitating blockbusters (remember that 2004 deal that landed Rasheed Wallace in Detroit?), but with where the Celtics are at right now – he’ll likely only deal if he’s getting the best player back.
The Nets are becoming a wasteland for bad contracts, but they just took on DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe – making the likelihood they take on Anderson’s deal more difficult.
Entirely possible: Portland Trail Blazers
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stoked the flames of a Carmelo to Portland deal last Friday on Ryen Russillo’s radio show.
“Portland is an interesting team in this because CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have done a really good job of recruiting Carmelo,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve been on him. McCollum is in New York, you saw the video [of Carmelo and McCollum] playing pick-up. Selling him on, ‘Hey, look what our team could look like with you.’ But that’s incumbent ultimately on can Portland put a package together that appeals to New York?
“If they could, then that’s a sleeper team in this to get Carmelo to waive his no trade because I’m told they’ve piqued Carmelo’s interest at the very least.”
Longshot: Boston Celtics
When the Paul George trade rumors were hot and heavy, it was said that the Celtics could only sign him after they signed Gordon Hayward. The second shoe never dropped in Boston, and the thinking now is that Ainge will wait this thing out and see if a team panics (cough, New Orleans, cough) at the 2018 NBA trade deadline or next summer.
But if the Celtics think they can make a run at this thing immediately (they can absolutely beat the Cavs with their current roster), then Ainge has at least mulled a Carmelo trade in the past few weeks.
The Celtics can still offer the best package of players and picks straight-up to New York – but it would require basically gutting their roster. A package of Jae Crowder, newly acquired Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Ante Zizic and Abdel Nader barely reaches the money requirements for a Carmelo swap. The Knicks would surely want some sort of future pick in that deal as well.
Unless, the Celtics are willing to do something drastic – like trade away Al Horford’s big contract – then a Carmelo deal doesn’t really make much sense for them before the start of the 2017-18 NBA season.