With the war with Phil Jackson won, could Carmelo Anthony finally come to a peaceful exit from New York?
A report on ESPN.com surfaced early Monday morning that Anthony, according to sources was finally relenting and willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Knicks could move him to Houston or Cleveland. The two teams have been the most likely destinations to appease Anthony if he moved with his friends in those spots – LeBron James in Cleveland and Chris Paul newly-arrived in Houston.
Anthony has not won much in the last four seasons, missing the playoffs every year since Jackson arrived after making it every year in his career prior to that. He is the lone holdover from the team that Jackson inherited in March, 2014, and was the focus of an effort by Jackson to force him out.
But Anthony had steered his career to New York, pushing for a trade from Denver in 2011, and when he was a free agent in the summer of 2014 and being pursued by teams around the league – including Houston – Jackson gave him a five-year, $124.9 million deal to stay in New York. And to give up a small amount of money from the maximum he could receive, Anthony insisted on becoming one of the few players with a no-trade clause to assure he was secure in New York.
Jackson began trying to prod him to waive it in January, 2016 and didn’t let up for 18 months, publicly and privately sniping at him with insults first and then in the last few months, praise and a sort of, “It’s not you, it’s me,” approach, insisting that he wanted to help Anthony find a winning team while the Knicks went through a rebuild with youth.
“Well, here’s a guy that’s really special, a hall of fame player that’s done a lot for our organization,” Jackson said on MSG Network the night before the draft – after talking about trading Kristaps Porzingis. “We know we value him highly, know the NBA does and other teams do.
“This is long term. We’ve expressed the fact we’ve tried to put together teams that could win. We haven’t been successful. We’ve said it might be time for him to find an opportunity to go someplace else. He says he’d just as soon stay. We’re trying to put together a youth aspect. There’ll be other conversations after the draft and after free agency as teams start organizing their rosters.”
But Anthony had dug his heels in against Jackson, not only unwilling to give in to him, but also facing a family situation – estranged from his wife, Lala, and very close with their son, hesitant to leave New York if that is where he would remain. With general manager Steve Mills now serving as interim president Anthony may finally be willing to at least talk about the possibilities.
The Rockets have already engaged in talks with the Knicks this summer about Anthony, but the Knicks reportedly rejected to consider a deal centered around Ryan Anderson, who has three years and $61 million left on his contract. The only other player who could potentially come close to fitting and matching Anthony’s salary in a package is Eric Gordon, who is due $13 million this season and $40 million over the next three years.
While it may seem awkward to place Anthony in Houston where Mike D’Antoni just won coach of the year honors – after being fired in New York and much of the blame placed on Anthony, the two have shrugged that off in recent years. Anthony’s issue was not as much deferring in D’Antoni’s system as it was an unwillingness to defer to Jeremy Lin, who he did not believe was the star he became in a burst of hype after a magical two-week run.
Cleveland would logically center a deal around Kevin Love who makes $22 million next season, but like Anderson extends out a year beyond Anthony in his deal. The Cavs could package Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye which would clear considerable space for the Knicks next summer with Shumpert having two years and $20 million due while Frye’s deal is up after this season coming season.
Love could make more sense in a three-team deal and if the Knicks and Cavs could engage Boston again, the Celtics are the team that have the pieces which could help the Knicks start a youth movement, loaded with draft picks in the coming seasons.