Carmelo Anthony soon could join his good friend Chris Paul and reunite with his former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni in Houston.
The Knicks and Rockets are discussing Anthony trade scenarios, according to ESPN. Some involve three- and four-team deals, and because such trades are complex and difficult to complete, nothing appears imminent.
The biggest hang-up is finding a landing spot for Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, who has three years and $61 million remaining on his contract. The Knicks don’t want Anderson; otherwise, the trade may have been completed already. That’s why the two sides are looking for more teams to get involved.
There is the chance it could fall apart, but ESPN reported that both sides are “motivated” to reach a deal and “confident” they can. ESPN also reported there is a willing third team. Portland is a possibility because it wants to shed salaries, but a fourth team would be required for Anderson’s deal.
Anthony, 33, has a no-trade clause and 15-percent trade kicker in his contract, but he reportedly would be willing to waive the no-trade to play for the Rockets or Cavaliers.
LeBron James and Anthony have wanted to be teammates, but the Cavaliers haven’t been able to put together a package that satisfies the Knicks. Cleveland would be on Anthony’s list of teams to sign with if the Knicks bought out the remaining two years and $54 million on his contract. But the Knicks don’t want to let him walk away without getting anything in return. They’re trying to gather as many assets and/or draft picks for their best player.
The Rockets became the front-runners for Anthony after acquiring Paul from the Clippers. The two are close friends and have wanted to play with each other for many years. Before last season’s trade deadline, Anthony was linked to the Clippers.
Houston traded for Paul late last month, and continued to acquire expiring and non-guaranteed contracts for future deals. They were in pursuit of Paul George or Anthony. Since George was traded to Oklahoma City, the Rockets have turned their attention to Anthony.
The Rockets, who were 55-27 last season, hope teaming MVP runner-up James Harden with Paul and Anthony would give them the star power and firepower to challenge the NBA champion Warriors.
There definitely is momentum for an Anthony-Houston union. In a recent ESPN interview, Paul was asked whether he would be playing with Anthony in Houston. Paul replied, “Man, sit back and wait.”
Also, Anthony’s former Nuggets teammate, Nene, who is with Houston, posted a picture of Anthony in a Rockets uniform on Instagram. Nene wrote: “He will look great (in) this uniform . . . and I can’t wait to get back on Old Time like in Denver with him.” The post later was removed.
D’Antoni also hinted about getting Anthony Wednesday in Las Vegas, where the Rockets are playing summer league games. D’Antoni was asked if there was anyone else Houston would add to the roster.
“There’s somebody out there,” D’Antoni told reporters, then stopped himself so he wouldn’t be fined for talking about another team’s player. “I’ve blown enough money at the tables here.”
An Anthony-D’Antoni reunion would be interesting. They clashed over the Knicks’ offense before D’Antoni walked away in 2012. But Anthony was the Knicks’ franchise player and had much more power than he would have in Houston. The Rockets are Harden’s team, and he and Paul will be the primary ballhandlers. Anthony should thrive as a second or third option. His best seasons have come when he’s played with an elite point guard.
In 6 1⁄2 seasons with the Knicks, Anthony has averaged 24.7 points and led them to the Atlantic Division title in 2012-13. They made three straight playoff appearances (winning only one series) before missing the postseason the past four years.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson made it clear he wanted to move the team forward without Anthony. Now general manager Steve Mills is working to accomplish that. The Knicks are building around young players Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr. and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina. They’re all 25 or younger.
Anthony doesn’t fit the plan.
The Knicks hope to get back young players, draft picks and salary-cap flexibility in exchange for Anthony. They need a veteran point guard to mentor Ntilikina and second-year pro Ron Baker. If the Knicks can’t get one in this trade, they hope to free up enough cap space to sign one.
The top point guards available are Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. All the Knicks have is $1.5 million in cap space after signing Hardaway and using their room exception to give Baker a two-year, $8.9-million deal.