Four Carmelo Anthony trades that (kinda sorta almost) make sense

Where will Carmelo Anthony end up?

 

As we’ve seen from Phil Jackson this week, the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony are most likely heading for a divorce. However, a trade won’t be easy for a variety of factors. Anthony has a big contract ($26 million next year and then a player option for $28 million), declining skills, and a no-trade clause.

Here are some teams that I considered including but ultimately did NOT put in the final four:

BOS: I don’t think the team wants another to muck up their chemistry when they don’t have to. And if they did want a bold move, they have the assets to make a play for the younger, better forwards in Jimmy Butler and Paul George.

CLE: LeBron and the Cavs would presumably love to have Carmelo Anthony as another piece, but they don’t have much to offer in return. Mediocre wings like Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith would be a poor return for the Knicks.

DET: Given the disappointing season in Detroit, I can see Stan Van Gundy making a bold move here and trading one of his point guards (either Reggie Jackson or Ish Smith) and Stanley Johnson for Carmelo Anthony. But I don’t think Carmelo would want to go to Detroit; they’re a mess and not a clear contender.

NO: The Pelicans could be even scarier/stranger than ever if they landed Carmelo Anthony. A trade for Solomon Hill and Tim Frazier may appeal to the Knicks in turn, who may get two under the radar starters out of that deal. Still, this would represent another huge risk for the Pelicans, less than a year out from their DeMarcus Cousins gambit.

OKC: Some young pieces like Doug McDermott and Domantas Sabonis may intrigue the Knicks, but I imagine that the Thunder are looking for a younger star to pair with Russell Westbrook (Blake Griffin, perhaps?)

WAS: I like the idea of Carmelo Anthony playing stretch four for the Wizards, but they don’t have much to offer in return. Some of their biggest contracts (Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi) wouldn’t fit with the Knicks’ albatross in Joakim Noah.

With all that said, here are my four favorite trades.

(4) ATLANTA

the trade

SF Carmelo Anthony for SF Kent Bazemore and SF DeAndre Bembry

would the Knicks say yes?

Bazemore would be more of a solid fill-in (albeit with 3 years left on his deal), but the more appealing piece would be young rookie forward DeAndre Bembry, or Taurean Prince if they can include or swap him here. Getting a young forward like Bembry or Prince wouldn’t be considered a great return in terms of name value, but the Knicks may agree to this simply to get Carmelo Anthony off their books and out of their heads.

would the Hawks say yes?

The reason this trade makes some sense to me is that Carmelo Anthony’s age (32) lines up perfectly with the Hawks’ highest profile stars Dwight Howard (31) and Paul Millsap (32). If they can retain Millsap, the Hawks would have a two-year window of contention.

Ultimately, I doubt the Hawks will agree to this because Mike Budenholzer and the organization prides itself in the ability to develop young players — particularly wings.

would Carmelo say yes?

I imagine Carmelo Anthony would prefer other destinations with a surer path to the title (like the Cavs), but this would be an acceptable consolation prize. At the very least, he’d be in the playoffs.

(3) TORONTO

the trade

SF Carmelo Anthony for PG Cory Joseph and SF DeMarre Carroll

would the Knicks say yes?

Like Kent Bazemore, DeMarre Carroll would be a (slightly overpriced) fill-in starter. Cory Joseph is overqualified for his current role as a backup and would slide in to be the Knicks’ starter right away. Overall you’re getting two decent starters. The Knicks would presumably want younger players than this, but it’s a decent return. Getting a youngster like Norman Powell may put this over the top.

would the Raptors say yes?

The Raptors are “all in” already, but this would be going to the extreme. If management is willing to pay up for it, we could be talking about a starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Carmelo Anthony, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. Their willingness to add another star may depend on how they do in this playoffs. If their series against the Cavs proves they’re close but not quite there, I can see them talking themselves into this.

would Carmelo say yes?

Oddly enough, I’m not so sure. The Toronto Raptors would be an immediate contender in the East (if they’re not already), but I don’t know if Carmelo Anthony wants to play 3rd fiddle to Lowry and DeRozan, all for the purposes of squeaking by his buddy LeBron James. For a guy who likes the spotlight, Toronto may be too far away as well. Overall, I don’t think he’d prefer this landing spot.

(2) SAN ANTONIO

the trade

SF Carmelo Anthony for C Pau Gasol and F Kyle Anderson

would the Knicks say yes?

Pau Gasol is obviously an old buddy of Phil Jackson and well-versed in the Triangle, but Kyle Anderson may be the more intriguing piece of this puzzle. “Slow-Mo” hasn’t shown it in the NBA, but he’s known for being able to run an offense and be a playmaker for others. If he’s handed the keys for longer stretches, I can see him developing into a surprising star in the league. Overall, he’s not the most exciting haul for a superstar, but options are going to be limited.

would the Spurs say yes?

On paper, the Spurs aren’t the organization that appreciates ball stoppers and empty calorie scorers like Carmelo Anthony. However, you may have said the same for LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s adjusted just fine. Based on his play for Team USA, Carmelo has shown an ability to adapt and work within the confines of the offense. I actually think he’d be much better in San Antonio than people expect.

If the Spurs lose Pau Gasol and Anderson in this deal (as projected), their frontcourt rotation would make a lot of sense. They can still start Aldridge and Dewayne Dedmon if they want, and then bring Carmelo Anthony off the bench as a super scoring stretch 4 (playing alongside either of them.) If the Spurs struggle with the Rockets and/or Warriors this offseason, a bold move like this may be necessary.

would Carmelo say yes?

The idea of being a third option (and possibly coming off the bench) would normally be a deal breaker for Carmelo, but this is San Antonio. This is Gregg Popovich. I believe he’d accept this deal, in order to chase that elusive ring.

(1) LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

the trade

SF Carmelo Anthony for PG Austin Rivers, SG Jamal Crawford

would the Knicks say yes?

At this stage of his career, Jamal Crawford would simply be involved as a salary dump. Whether the Knicks would agree to this or not depends entirely on whether they think Austin Rivers is a legitimate starting guard or not. Rivers, still only 24 years old, flashed more promise this season than he ever has before. There’s a wide open hole at PG in New York, where he’d have his best opportunity ever to prove himself.

If needed, the Clippers could also throw in a pair of cheap rookies in Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone, who may have some upside. But by and large, the Knicks would be the ones holding up this deal if they don’t feel like it’s enough of a return.

would the Clippers say yes?

Absolutely. Even Daddy Doc would have to see the Knicks as a better situation for his son and wish him well there.

With the Clippers, Carmelo Anthony could play the role that Jeff Green and Paul Pierce were supposed to. They could lock up the starting SF spot, and then switch over to play stretch PF when Blake Griffin needed a breather. Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer wants to win a title, so the idea of paying for a lineup of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan doesn’t sound ridiculous. Even without a good bench, that’s a top 3 seed in the West.

would Carmelo say yes?

100%. I have to imagine this (or the Cavs) would be his #1 preferred destination.

 

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