I wrote an article earlier this year about the Celtics acquiring Carmelo Anthony, but I also did not think the Knicks would get to a point this year that Phil Jackson would think about moving Anthony. The signings of Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, and the trade for Derrick Rose signified the Knicks were in win-now mode, but the 2016-2017 season has been anything but successful, and especially not a “superteam.” The Knicks currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. It is not all bad news for the Knicks. Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, if not the future of the entire NBA. He and Joel Embiid look like they could be battling against each other for title of best big man in the Eastern Conference for the next decade. And to think that the Knicks picked Porzingis on spot after the Sixers selected Jahlil Okafor. It was clear that the Porzingis camp did not want him in Philly, and perhaps Porzingis would have stayed overseas if the Sixers had drafted him, but it will forever be a “what if,” to me, just as the James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant trio will be for every NBA fan. (I know it is almost five years later and needs to be let go, but with how they are all playing this year, I can’t help it.)
Since the 2001-2002 season, the Knicks have only had four playoff appearances, with three of those four coming with Carmelo Anthony on the team. The Knicks peaked in the 2012-2013 season with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith, and Iman Shumpert looking like perennial challengers to whatever team LeBron James was on in the Eastern Conference. Well that was short lived and the Knicks have not made the playoffs since. With New York being the largest media market in the United States and New York being an impatient fan base, the Knicks cannot fall into the obscurity they were in in the early 2000s, but something needs to be done.
As current president of the New York Knicks, Phil Jackson needs to realize the position he and his team are in. They have one of the best young players in the NBA, a lot of declining veterans on a losing team, and no significant incoming picks. Well Jackson may not want a full rebuild, nor does he need it with the #1 building block already in place with Porzingis, but Jackson needs to go a new direction. Whether this means getting back young players who can develop on the Knicks, or draft picks used to acquire these players, this current group of Knicks is not winning a championship, and probably not even getting playoff spot.
The player on the roster the Knicks can probably get the most value for is Carmelo Anthony, but there are a couple issues. The first and most obvious involving any trade with Anthony is his no-trade clause. Ramona Shelburne has reported that Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson will meet this week to discuss the their respective futures after Charlie Rosen reported that Carmelo Anthony has, “outlived his usefulness in New York.” The second issue is Anthony’s current salary. He is making over 24 million dollars this season, is under contract next season, and has a player option for 2018-2019. Any team trading for him must be able to either match his salary, or have the cap space to take his salary on. Any team trading for him would have to account for his 15% trade kicker that comes along with trading for him, although Anthony can waive that. No team has enough space to take on his salary outright, but a handful of teams are close and wouldn’t have to necessarily match the salary. The third issue is teams who would want him versus teams that Anthony would be willing to go to. It has been reported that Carmelo would waive his no-trade clause for the Cavaliers and Clippers, but both these teams are over the salary cap and would struggle to match salaries or come up with a trade package that the Knicks may go for. On the flip side, a team like the Nuggets has the assets and cap space to make a move, but would Carmelo want to move to a smaller city and market, on a rebuilding team? (Besides the fact he has already played there.) There are so many factors involved that would have to fall perfectly into place for a trade to occur that it seems unlikely, but with the recent news it seems like a possibility. Let’s take a look at a couple trade scenarios that could possibly happen.
New York Knicks Receive: Derrick Favors
Utah Jazz Receive: Carmelo Anthony
Why the Knicks do this trade: Derrick Favors and Kristaps Porzingis would be able to play the 4 and 5 interchangeably depending on the matchups, and with both of their young ages, would be able to grow together. If Favors could develop a jumper, this would be a lethal pairing both offensively and defensively. Financially the Knicks would save around 13 million dollars this year and 14 million next year. It is not a draft pick or rookie scale contract, but they avoid the risk of an unproven player or the uncertainty of a draft pick.
Why the Knicks don’t do this trade: If the Jazz offered this, I think the Knicks have to take it. Favors is on the upswing while Anthony is on the downswing, and the versatilities that Favors brings with either playing the 4 or 5 and the willingness he has showed to come off the bench is extremely important with the lack of foundation pieces around Porzingis. The only reason they don’t is if draft picks and rookie contracts are what they are after.
Why the Jazz do this trade: The Jazz are currently allowing the fewest points per game to opposing teams by over 3 points, as of January 17th, so if there was a team to cover up Anthony’s defensive deficiency, it would be the Jazz. The Jazz currently sit in 5th in the West and may feel that swapping out Favors for Anthony could be that last piece to put them over the top. If Anthony would be willing to play power forward for the Jazz so Gordon Hayward can continue his ascent to one of the best small forwards in the league, this could work. Anthony is also good insurance if Gordon Hayward leaves in free agency this offseason.
Why the Jazz don’t do this trade: Derrick Favors has slowly been returning from injury, and when he is healthy, the tandem of him and Rudy Gobert make an intimidating frontcourt, perhaps the best defensive big man duo in the NBA. They are 25 and 24 years old so still have plenty of room to grow together. The Jazz may not be willing to trade this for an aging player who thus far in his career has not won much, regardless of the star power, let alone the expensive price tag. If the Jazz do not want to give up Favors, which I would assume would be tough for them to do as their foundation pieces seem like they are set up for a good run the next couple years, they could offer something different. Joe Johnson, the Jazz’s 2017 first round pick, Warriors’ 2017 first round pick, Jazz’s 2018 first round pick and Thunder’s 2018 first round pick also works financially for the Jazz, but them would complicate finances moving forward. This sets them up for a better run this year, while only giving away what should be lower draft picks. 4 picks seem like a lot but they all will probably fall between 20-30.
Would Carmelo Anthony agree to this trade? The Utah Jazz has one of the smallest media markets in sports and I do not see Anthony and his wife, a TV personality wanting to go there. The only reason I see Anthony agreeing to this is if winning is what is most important. This is the best combo I can see between being able to give back a package the Knicks would accept, along with Anthony going to a winning team. It is a shame the situation is in Utah and not LA or I think a trade would be able to be worked out between the two front offices. When all is said and done, I do not see Anthony waiving his no-trade clause for Utah.
New York Knicks Receive: Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington, Jordan McRae, Every Pick the Cavs can trade
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Marshall Plumlee
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert
Why the Knicks do this trade: This trade gets the Knicks younger and cheaper all across the board. This was the trade I came up with but a lot of the pieces the Knicks are receiving are interchangeable with other players. They could take Nerlens Noel instead of Okafor, Nik Stauskas instead of Robert Coving, and DeAndre Liggins instead of Jordan McRae. Okafor looked like a future offensive centerpiece last year and letting him play alongside Porzingis would give him the spacing he needs on offense while also getting the defensive assistance. The Cavaliers picks are confusing due to the fact that they have traded so many, and with the protections on the previously traded picks, some picks the Cavs currently posses are not able to be traded. I am going to put some more research into this but if the Cavs can include a 2021 first rounder, I think this may be enough of a return for the Knicks. Okafor is under his rookie scale contract through 2018-2019 so it still gives Phil Jackson the financial wiggle room he will need to sign some free agents. If Jackson finally accepts the fire sale that needs to happen in New York, finding any way for the 76ers to take on Joakim Noah’s contract will their cap room would be a no brainer, even if that meant taking on Jerryd Bayless or Sergio Rodriquez. If the Knicks really want Anthony gone and know there are only two places he’d go, the options will be limited.
Why the Knicks don’t do this trade: Jahlil Okafor would have to be viewed as a long-term piece by the Knicks. Taking Carmelo’s contract off the books for a rookie contract hold value in itself so they may be willing to take a little less value. My belief and a lot of media member’s belief seem to be that Porzingis needs to play center. By trading for Okafor, it means Jackson values Okafor enough to be a foundation piece, and there is no way Okafor is playing the 4. The picks the Cavs will be able to muster together won’t amount to much immediately so the value just may not be there. It would be simpler to not include a third team but to make this work financially, Smith and Shumpert almost have to be involved and I don’t see the Knicks wanting them back, as the Knicks were the ones who sent them to the Cavs in the first place.
Why the Cavaliers do this trade: To make LeBron happy. LeBron always seems to get what LeBron wants and he has publically stated that he wants to play with Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony together before the end of his career. J.R. Smith is a favorite of LeBron’s and Shumpert is probably the best defender on the Cavs so Cleveland may not see the value in taking on Anthony for these two. Kyle Korver makes Smith a little more expendable but Cleveland would have to be confident that whomever they keep between DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae would be able to pick up some of the defensive slack with the departure of Shumpert. It would get much more complicated in making a trade with the Cavs work financially. After getting destroyed by the Warriors this past Monday, the Cavaliers may realize they need to make a major move if they hope to have a chance should the Warriors and Cavs meet in
Why the Cavaliers don’t do this trade: The Cavs would still be taking on more salary than they are sending out, so there would be luxury tax penalties but at this point I don’t think they are worried too much about that. The problem with picking up Carmelo would be the fit. Last year it seemed like a Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony swap was possible, but with the way he has been playing this year, along with the contract situation and overall fit on the team, Love currently posses more value than Anthony. Does swapping Love for Anthony put them any closer to beating the Warriors? No. I do not see a clear fit for Anthony if he is on this roster. Does he play a shooting guard role on offense and guard small forwards on D, with LeBron guarding the shooting guard? Does he accept a 6th man role? Does Love move to center and you sacrifice rim protection? It would be a confusing fit and I don’t know if losing Shumpert and Smith, who both have pretty set roles on this team, is worth the potential chemistry issues.
Why the 76ers do this trade: J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Sasha Vujacic give the Sixers leadership and shooting they desperately need. The Sixers have been on a roll lately and giving Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid some veterans who have won championships could help show them what it takes to win. These are all contracts that could be moved down the line if need be as well. A starting lineup of T.J. McConnell, J.R. Smith, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid, with Nerlens Noel, Iman Shumpert and Nik Stauskas coming off the bench could finally put the Sixers back into the playoffs, while maintaining future flexibility.
Why the 76ers don’t do this trade: The Sixers must not have gotten any offers of value for Noel and Okafor up to this point or I think they would have accepted it. The only reason I do not see the Sixers accepting this is if the Knicks make taking on Joakim Noah’s contract a must, which I think the Knicks possibly could. I do not see the Sixers as a big free agent destination this offseason or next, but if they do, they may rather the financial flexibility than the veteran players. Like I said before, I think all incoming contracts would be easy to move so really the big issue is wanting youth instead.
Would Carmelo Anthony agree to this trade? Reports are that he would wave his no trade clause for the Cavs and Clippers so one would think yes. The issues I see arising is not having a defined role or position going to the Cavs and his wife, La La Anthony, not wanting to be stuck in Cleveland.
Los Angeles Clippers
New York Knicks Receive: Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Brice Johnson, Clippers’ 2019 second round pick, Cavaliers’ 2020 second round pick, Clippers’ 2021 first round pick
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Sasha Vujacic
Why the Knicks do this trade: If the Knicks are set on getting rid of Carmelo Anthony and no trade to Cleveland works out and Anthony won’t waive his no trade clause for anywhere else. The Knicks hope they can move Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers for a pick at draft time this summer, which is the only reason they would consider this. Realistically a third team would have to be involved in this trade that would take Rivers or Crawford, such as the Jazz taking either one, most likely Crawford, for a late 2017 first round pick. Due to the fact I have no idea what teams value Rivers or Crawford if any, and the Clippers lack of assets to entice a third team, I felt it better to not try to guess on a potential three team trade.
Why the Knicks don’t do this trade: Pretty much every other reason. Austin Rivers and Brice Johnson are young, but neither projects even close to an NBA All-Star or even an NBA player outside of the Clippers. Austin Rivers did not look like much of an NBA player until he started playing for his dad and Brice Johnson is a 22 year old rookie who was a late first round pick. All the luck in the world to Johnson on his NBA career but that type of player doesn’t have much of a history into developing into someone you would trade for Carmelo Anthony. The Clippers unprotected 2021 first round pick may end up being of value down the line but I don’t think Phil Jackson is someone who wants to wait around for that.
Why the Clippers do this trade: Doc Rivers has been trying to solve the question mark at small forward for the Clippers ever since he arrived. The Clippers’ trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre has led good teams the past few seasons, but when your small forwards of the past few years have been Jeff Green, Luc Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Grant Hill, and Matt Barnes, it has been a rotation of mediocrity. The Clippers always seem to be one player away, or one less injury away from the NBA Finals. Would getting Anthony get them past the Warriors? Who knows but it would get them a lot closer. Carmelo has never played with a point guard like Chris Paul or a rim protector like DeAndre Jordan. Putting Anthony around those two, one of whom is a close friend, may help him become more of a team player on offense while his one on one defense won’t be quite as critical with Jordan behind him. I think this is a no brainer trade for the Clippers, and the presence of Anthony may help keep Paul and Griffin in town come the offseason when both can become free agents. The only other option the Clippers have to make this work financially is to trade Griffin, which is possible considering Griffin can leave town after the season.
Why the Clippers don’t do this trade: Doc Rivers thinks Thanksgiving dinner will be too awkward since he traded his own son.
Would Carmelo Anthony agree to this trade? This is one of the teams he reportedly will waive his no trade clause for. LA keeps him in a major media market and is probably a better location for his wife than New York. He gets to play with a good friend, great coach and a competitive team. All signs point to yes, Anthony would agree to this.
*This is the trade I wrote a few weeks ago, slightly adjusted
Celtics Receive: Carmelo Anthony
Knicks Receive: Amir Johnson, Jaylen Brown, Tyler Zeller, Nets 2018 Pick
Why the Celtics do this trade: Carmelo Anthony gives Ainge the star he has lacked since The Big Three left. Horford and Thomas are stars in their own right, but they are not the globally recognized superstar name. Although Anthony hasn’t won much in recent years in the NBA, he still is one of the best USA players of all-time and has to be itching for a title after watching LeBron win his 3rd championship. He would be able to slot in at PF when Horford is at center and move down to SF when Horford is at PF. I still thinking trading for Andrew Bogut or Nerlens Noel in addition to this would be a huge get for the Celtics. The Celtics are in a tough spot because they have more trade assets and very good NBA players than any other team in the NBA, but the timing on those players and assets just doesn’t line up. The current players on the roster need established talent to overcome the Cavs, which the draft picks will not provide. The draft picks that will turn into young NBA players with potential may be good down the line, but Horford and Thomas will either be declining due to age, or have moved on from the Celtics, when those young players are ready to compete. With everything at the Celtics’ disposal right now, it would be a shame to seem them hover in mediocrity for the next 15 years because they did not take advantage of an opportunity.
Why the Celtics don’t do this trade: This is a big haul for an aging, iso-focused player who does not have a history of making those around him better or playing above average defense. Ainge could have his sights set on DeMarcus Cousins or PG13 and the possibility of getting one of them goes out the door without one of the two Nets picks. The Knicks could push for both Nets picks, which I think Ainge would laugh at but in desperation, might do it. Ainge could realize that they are unlikely to win a championship over the Cavs or Dubs, so stay competitive now and hope those picks turn into future stars.
Why the Knicks do this trade: The future of the Knicks, if not the NBA, is Kristaps Porzingis. He should be the focal point of the offense and Carmelo’s 20 shots on any given night is taking away from his growth. Anthony is not like LeBron making everyone around him better. With the team centerpiece already in place, they do not need to go into a full rebuild, just be able to develop a team around him so when he hits his prime they are competing for championships. Jaylen Brow and the Nets pick give the Knicks what could be 2 key pieces to those championships along with more cap flexibility in bringing either another star or complementary players. Amir Johnson is on an expiring contract., and Zeller has an option for next season. Bring in 2 young players and open up salary cap space seems like the move for the Knicks. Jaylen Brown can guard any position 2-4 so his flexibility should help with bringing Porzingis over to center. The Celtics own so many other draft picks that Jackson can try to pry more than just the one Nets pick.
Why the Knicks don’t do this trade: Phil Jackson does not want to rebuild, he wants to reboot. The Noah and Lee signings this summer were win-now signings even though 1/4 of the way into the season, neither are looking great. Trading Anthony would be throwing in the towel on this and next season and the countdown to Noah’s contract expiring would begin. Phil Jackson has an ego and I cannot picture him helping a division rival either.
Would Carmelo Anthony agree to this trade? This is not one of the teams reported that he would wave his no-trade clause for, but the ability to compete for a championship, while staying in the Eastern Conference, and also being able to be in a major market in the northeast seems like an ideal scenario. By holding onto the Nets 2017 pick, along with the many other picks the Celtics posses, they can either remain competitive for years to come or use those assets to add even more players. I think Carmelo Anthony should really consider Boston.
Never Going to Happen
New York Knicks Receive: Rajon Rondo, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, Bulls 2017 first round pick
Chicago Bulls Receive: Carmelo Anthony
Never Ever Going to Happen
New York Knicks Receive: Nikola Pekovic, Kris Dunn, Timberwolves’ 2018 first round pick
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Carmelo Anthony
Never Ever Ever Going to Happen
New York Knicks Receive: Enes Kanter, Cameron Payne, OKC’s 2017 first round draft pick, OKC’s 2018 second round draft pick
Oklahoma City Thunder: Carmelo Anthony
The “I Will Do Anything to Get Noah Off The Books”
New York Knicks Receive: Allen Crabbe, Moe Harkless, Festus Ezeli
Portland Trail Blazer Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah
I’ve Been Writing too Long. I’m Getting Delirious
New York Knicks Receive: Kevin Durant
Golden State Warriors Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks’ 2017 first round pick