Phil Jackson started a public and unnecessary skirmish with Carmelo Anthony, trying to get the superstar to want to leave town so badly he would waive his no-trade clause.
It backfired. Oh, Anthony wants to leave town, but he is only willing to accept a trade to two destinations, Houston or Cleveland, neither of which have the right players for the Knicks to want to do a straight-up swap, so third and fourth teams have been brought in, and that got nowhere. Jackson drove down the trade value of Anthony (as did his style of play in defense in an evolving NBA) and now the new Knicks management wants to clean up the mess.
The new Knicks idea: Make peace with Anthony, talk about bringing him into camp, gain some leverage and build up his trade value a little, then pull the trigger on a trade.
Except Anthony is not playing that game, Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“Carmelo Anthony has made it clear to them, I want to go to Houston, I’m not interested in talking to you about being re-incorporated back into this New York roster.
“So what they’re trying to do… Steve Mills wouldn’t have ascended to this job in New York if he wasn’t politically savvy, he doesn’t want to get into a public war here with Carmelo Anthony, who they spent over a year trying to run out of town. Houston now is prepared that these talks could run through August, September, into the start of training camp.”
If the Knicks bring Carmelo Anthony back to training camp, it will be an absolute zoo.
And that shouldn’t pressure the Knicks into taking a bad deal.
The Rockets understandably want to move Ryan Anderson as part of this deal, he’s a good stretch four when healthy but is owed more than $60 million over three years. The Knicks don’t want that contract back, they want to clear space to chase free agents (or other trades) to put young players around Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks need to hold that line even if it means bringing Anthony back for training camp.
This is where the third and fourth teams come in — a third team may be willing to take on Anderson’s contract but they will want young players and/or first round picks as sweeteners (the Nets took the Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov bad contract but got recent No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell for it). Or, that third team will want to move a regrettable contract of its own, for example, Portland trying to find a Meyers Leonard taker. It’s hard enough to make two teams happy in a deal, make it three or four teams and it’s exponentially harder.
I would not be surprised at all if this drags into training camp. The Knicks don’t have a choice if the offers do not improve.