According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Carmelo Anthony is now open to waving his no -rade clause if he were to join the Houston Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers in a swap.
Anthony and the Knicks have been at an impasse all season long, with the star forward holding all the cards given his contractual ability to reject any trade. It has certainly worked for Anthony up to this point, as former Presisdent Phil Jackson was let go last week.
The Rockets are a seemingly attractive destination for Carmelo now that the Los Angeles Clippers have traded star point guard Chris Paul over to join James Harden. Houston also added P.J. Tucker to the wing. After Harden’s MVP performance in 2016-17, no doubt they will again and be challenging for a top for spot in a strengthening Western Conference.
Meanwhile the Cavaliers have been rumored to be a destination for Anthony for the entire season, and it’s obvious after a five game series in the 2017 NBA Finals that LeBron James needs a little more help to get past the Golden State Warriors.
The big problem here of course is that both the Rockets and Cavaliers are over the salary cap, so whatever players they send back toward New York exchange for Anthony would have to have matching salaries.
Anthony makes a whopping $26 million in 2017-18, so the returning options for both Houston and Cleveland would have to be salary filler. Neither team are likely to send one of their major contract star players back to New York, so the incentive would have to be pick-based.
That’s a big problem given that both Cleveland and Houston have already sent their first round picks for 2018 to the Hawks and the Clippers, respectively. Teams must comply with the Stepien rule, which says that they cannot trade their first round draft picks in consecutive years.
The only way to get around this would be for them to either offer New York their 2020 first round picks or trade back for their outgoing 2018 first rounders before a deal with New York took place.
Houston is in a stickier situation given that they would not be able to make a trade for Carmelo without sending back Ryan Anderson to the Knicks due to their current salary situation. It’s unclear whether New York would want Anderson for the remainder of his contract, which lasts through 2019-20.
No matter how you slice it, getting Carmelo to either of these teams is not going to be pretty. Both teams are in a situation in which they are likely trying to add Carmelo without decimating their current talent base. Neither team has any third party first round draft picks to offer the Knicks, and it’s not clear whether a package combined with second round picks would be able to get Anthony out of the Big Apple.
We also don’t know where the Knicks are at with Carmelo now that Jackson is out of the loop. They could be exasperated with him, and looking to move Carmelo with little hope of recovering even close to equal compensation. That would work out more in Cleveland and Houston’s favor in terms of actually getting a deal done. If New York wants a more standard compensation package, the issues could go farther than the salaries.
The Knicks are weird — and so is this NBA offseason — so I wouldn’t put it past the forces that be to get Carmelo out of New York.