The first domino of Carmelo Anthony's departure from the New York Knicks could be dropping as we speak.
A source told Marc Berman of the New York Post that the Boston Celtics dealing for the veteran star could become more likely, though it wouldn't happen until July due to a multitude of expiring contracts in Beantown.
During February's trade deadline, the Celtics' coaching staff wanted to make a deal with the Knicks for Anthony, but general manager Danny Ainge's anxiety about Boston's cap space held the trade up.
Berman reported that Ainge's views on the deal could be changing, especially with the No. 1-seeded Celtics facing elimination in the first round of the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls.
On top of that, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller and Gerald Green's contracts that add up to $26.4 million freeze on June 22, per Berman. That would leave enough space to absorb Anthony's contract, which is slated to yield over $26 million in each of its final two years.
Small forward Jae Crowder would be a centerpiece in the Knicks' return if Anthony was to waive his no-trade clause.
Crowder is a defensive-minded swingman that can provide valuable defense along the perimeter, which is one of many things the Knicks need.
Along with an ability to add 10-15 points per game, he would be a nice addition to the triangle offense as a support for Kristaps Porzingis.
Knicks president Phil Jackson has already expressed his want for Crowder, telling Jonathan Lehman of the Post in 2016 that he should have made a deal for him when trading Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014.
Crowder was a developing youngster who was shipped in December of that year as a part of the trade sending Rajon Rondo from Boston to Dallas.
Anthony, who is facing plenty of problems off the court this offseason, would add another pure scorer to the Celtics' ranks alongside Isaiah Thomas. That could create a duo that would be one of the best in the Eastern Conference.
However, it would take more than Crowder to make the deal work. Expect the Celtics to ship the rights of one of their draft picks as well if trade talks start to heat up.