The operating logic behind the concept of trading away a particular superstar is usually filled with holes you could dunk a beach ball through. Most top players have no-trade clauses in their contracts, plus teams and their sponsors have vested interests in keeping the guy on the court who everyone tunes in to watch. That couldn’t be more true for Knicks’ small forward Carmelo Anthony, who’s about as critical to the team’s playoff chances as he is entrenched in the New York media landscape. Parting with him would require a small miracle.
That being said, it’s probably not a terrible idea. The Knicks aren’t competing for a title with their current roster, which is being constructed to do that four years from now. By then, Melo will be 35 and getting paid $25 million. Keeping him in New York prevents him from winning a championship and handicaps the Knicks ability to tank and/or signing marquee free agents.
The Big Lead’s Rob Perez deftly laid out the case for trading last week…
I don’t want to make this sound like an indictment or that he’s washed up, but, the man simply cannot carry the load of an entire franchise anymore — both physically and statistically. If Carmelo wants to win a championship before he retires, he needs to be the second or third best player on a team — end of story.
So where does that leave us?
The Knicks can’t just snap their fingers and have 50 trade offers waiting for them — because despite the NBA salary cap increase this season and the scheduled jump for next: Carmelo is owed $22,875,000 this year, $24,559,380 the next, and the number only keeps getting larger as his contract progresses. Regardless of how high the cap number gets for 2016-2017, Melo’s contract is going to be a burden.
Therefore: there are only two places he can land — organizations that not only could and would be willing to make room for him, but, teams Melo would waive his no trade clause for — as no bottom-of-the-barrel franchise is going to mortgage their future to acquire a salary cap-crippling star at the tail end of his career/he obviously won’t agree to join any team who has to dump everything to obtain him…
Of the many speculated trade pieces in a Carmelo Anthony deal, no one had seriously considered Clippers’ 26-year-old power forward Blake Griffin until ESPN’s Zach Lowe floated the idea on Monday. As insane as it may sound, Los Angeles is 15-3 this season with Griffin sitting out due to injury — the obvious conclusion being that they are a better team without him on the floor. Of course, that’s probably not true, but we’ll be able to test it in theory for at least another four weeks while he rehabs the hand he broke in a fight with a team equipment manager.
See where we’re going with this?
[ESPN] Someone in the Knicks front office should be calling Rivers, sweet-talking him about how a Griffin-Carmelo Anthony swap would help both teams. Paul and Anthony once toasted the prospect of playing together, and Anthony could channel the Team USA version of himself as a supercharged stretch power forward in L.A.
New York probably doesn’t want to hear this, and that’s fine. Star-for-star deals almost never happen; inertia is too powerful. The Knicks are (kind of) winning again, the Garden rocks, Melo is happy and passing, and he’s an appealing franchise face safely under contract for at least two seasons after this one. Swapping Melo for Griffin would leave the Knicks bereft of wing players.
The swap also would give New York a legit star who’s closer to Porzingis in age — a triangle post-up type who should appeal to prospective free agents as much as Melo does. The 2015-16 Knicks are a fun story, but they’re not going anywhere real, and they don’t have their draft pick. The future should still be the first priority.
A preeminent NBA expert thinks it makes sense, a Knicks fan and NBA blogger likes it and the numbers work. Will that be enough to make the deal happen? Probably not — but with the way the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are playing, it’s hard to imagine the 32-16 Clippers feel confident about their chances of advancing past the second round of the playoffs (something the franchise has never done).
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