Even with Phil Jackson out of his way, the chance of Carmelo Anthony staying with the Knicks have not fully recovered. He can breathe easier but not easy.
The Vertical reported the Knicks still are looking to deal Anthony (though they’re unwilling to buy him out). The club, which doesn’t have anyone to replace Jackson as president yet, is trying to get younger.
Nevertheless, Anthony has a no-trade clause he is expected to exercise if anything materializes. Anthony also owns a monetary trade-kicker, making a deal quite an enormous task.
In the possibility that Carmelo ends up elsewhere, the Rockets and the Cavs have emerged as the two most likely possibilities.
The Houston Rockets pulled off a stunner Wednesday when they agreed to trade for Chris Paul in a blockbuster with the Los Angeles Clippers, and they reportedly aren’t done pursuing stars.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst added the Rockets have been in pursuit of Paul George for two weeks and could continue to target him as they attempt to load up and compete with the Golden State Warriors. Adding Anthony or George alongside Paul and Harden would give the franchise the foundation for success, though depth pieces would still be needed.
If things do sort themselves out in New York and Anthony finds himself an unrestricted free agent, the Rockets will turn to another cap-balancing act to find room to sign him. They’d likely have to find someone to take on Ryan Anderson’s $60 million salary over the next three years, but with few deal sweeteners remaining, it’d be difficult to maneuver. But it’s something Houston would look into if George trades stall, or he lands somewhere else.
On the possibility with Cleveland, it is completely reliant on the the Knicks buying out Carmelo’s contract. Cleveland’s payroll situation would leave them with no choice but to give up Kevin Love if they were to acquire Carmelo Anthony in a trade and take on his contract. If he reaches a buyout with the Knicks, however, the Cavaliers would be able to keep their core together and sign Anthony to a much smaller contract.
Anthony would become the fourth piece of their puzzle, and in a buyout situation, the Cavaliers would maintain the flexibility to flip Love or Irving for someone like Paul George to give them a better opportunity of competing with the Warriors.
Anthony has the potential to thrive in that sort of complementary role as well. He isn’t capable of carrying an offense all by himself anymore — not one that can compete with the Warriors and Cavaliers, at least — but he’s elite at two incredibly important things in today’s NBA, being the ability to space the floor and create his own shot.