New York Knicks president Phil Jackson is “determined” to move his star forward Carmelo Anthony by the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix, to start building around Kristaps Porzingis
This is Jackson’s first time aggressively shopping Anthony, who has a no-trade clause built into his contract. The Knicks cannot deal the nine-time All-Star unless he signs off on a suitable landing spot.
The Knicks have now reached out to three teams, per the Vertical, in an effort to find a destination Anthony would accept in a trade: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Clippers.
New York first reached out to Cleveland on Monday, according to ESPN.com, in an effort to orchestrate an Anthony-for-Kevin Love swap. The Cavaliers declined.
The Celtics informed the Knicks they had no interest in Anthony on Friday, per ESPN.com.
On Wednesday, Anthony told reporters the team never contacted him regarding a trade and was unsure whether management was intentionally trying to force him out of New York.
“I don’t know,” Anthony said, according to the New York Daily News. “I honestly don’t know.
“If they want to go in a different direction, that’s something I have to consider,” he added later. “I think I would have to consider that. All the talk that’s going on, that’s out of my control. Nobody contacted me, nobody contacted my representation or anything like that. So it’s something that I’m not worried about.”
Why Anthony will get traded
If Jackson has done anything this season, it’s been to launch a smear campaign against his star forward.
In early December, the Zen Master chided Anthony for stopping the team’s movement by holding onto the ball too long. The comments came not too long after he upset Melo’s close friend, LeBron James, by calling his close group a “posse.”
Later that month, Jackson’s good friend and ex-assistant coach Charley Rosen wrote a scathing column, using Anthony as a scapegoat for all of the Knicks’ woes and questioning whether or not his time in New York was up.
“The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” Rosen wrote.
Anthony is by far New York’s most talented offensive weapon, even with Porzingis on the rise. Despite the improved supporting cast, the Knicks still find themselves seven games below .500 past the midseason mark.
The Knicks’ best player was left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team this season.
New York is getting outscored by 3.2 points per 100 possessions with Anthony on the floor — the sixth-worst of any starting forward to play at least 30 minutes per game through 30 games this season. His defensive rating of 110.5 points allowed per 100 possessions on the floor is the worst among that same group of players.
Regardless, the Knicks would have to find a willing trade partner to take on Anthony’s $25 million contract, plus his 15 percent trade kicker. His current contract beyond this season is scheduled to pay around $54 million through the 2018-19 season. Said team also needs to be one that Anthony himself is willing to accept.
The Celtics have many trade pieces, including the right to swap draft picks with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017 and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick outright, to put together a trade package. But Boston has already killed the notion they’re interested in the former All-Star forward.
The Clippers are also a potential trade partner, even more so after the Knicks have reached out regarding a deal that would not include any of the team’s Big 3 of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, or DeAndre Jordan, according to the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola.
Los Angeles is as big of a market as New York, and if there was any sure bet for Melo to waive his no-trade clause, the Clippers would be it.
Why Jackson won’t trade Melo
Anthony and Jackson met in January, and he informed management he did not plan to waive his no-trade clause, according the Daily News. But in an interview with Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, Melo had a caveat: “If they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing, yeah, I have to consider [a trade.]”
The roster as currently constructed doesn’t scream “rebuild.” New York added proven veterans in an offseason splash that included deals for Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings.
It’s also very difficult, by CBA standards, for a team to take on Anthony’s contract without giving up its core pieces vital to competing for a title. The only teams underneath the salary cap are Boston, Brooklyn, Denver, Indiana, the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Philly, Phoenix, and Utah.
None of those teams could absorb his full contract, and by Melo’s standards of location and contention, none is worthy of relocation.
Odds it happens
Anthony won’t waive his no-trade clause for a losing situation, and each team has a legitimate shot at at least a Conference Finals appearance. The Knicks (20-27) are 11th in the East, three games behind the Chicago Bulls, and have shown no indications toward making a legitimate push toward playoff contention.
Despite a splashy offseason, New York has lost seven of its last 10 games and has not played up to the playoff expectations it set over the summer.
Though now’s as good a time as any for Anthony to abandon ship, he’s remained constant with his desire to play and win in New York. But if a chance to play for a true contender lands on his lap, Melo could very well be on his way out — and maybe that’s what Jackson’s wanted all along.
For Anthony, it’s all about location and winning. The Clippers are a viable option, and as long as Jackson is hard-pressed to deal Melo, the likelihood of a trade will be high.