By John Schmeelk
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The great and powerful Adrian Wojnarowski, now with ESPN, reported Sunday that Anthony would be willing to accept a trade to either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, neither the Rockets nor the Cavaliers have anything resembling the assets the Knicks desire. The Rockets understandably want to unload the contract of Ryan Anderson, who would play a role similar to Anthony in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Anderson has three years and $61.3 million left on his contract, making him more of a toxic asset than someone desirable.
The Cavaliers have only one truly tradable asset: Kevin Love. The contracts and skill-sets of Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert make them all undesirable. It does not appear the Cavaliers want to deal Love for Anthony, but even if they did, the three years and $70 million left on Love’s deal don’t exactly make him attractive for a rebuilding team such as the Knicks.
It means the Knicks are going to have to find a third team to get involved in the process to get either one of these trades done. New York’s only goal should be to acquire young players or draft picks in any deal. If they have to take on a contract of two or fewer seasons to also get those types of assets, it is worth the bang for the buck. The Knicks are going to have to get creative, and it won’t be easy. Here are some teams who could get in the mix to make a trade like that happen:
Portland Trail Blazers: I saw Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders first mention the Blazers, and it makes sense. They are in luxury-cap hell with $132 million committed to players this season. If the Blazers are willing to take on Anderson’s deal, the Knicks could take back two of their bad contracts — some combination of Maurice Harkless and either Evan Turner or Allen Crabbe — to alleviate that stress. Since the Knicks would be taking such a huge salary dump (Harkless has three years, $30 million remaining, Turner three years, $53 million and Crabbe three years, $56 million), the Blazers would have to really sweeten the pot with a future draft pick and another young asset. The Lakers had to trade D’Angelo Russell to dump Timofey Mozgov. Portland might not agree to a package that strong, but the Knicks could at least inquire. You might be able to find a deal here somewhere, but the Knicks should be leery of taking on a big-money, three-year deal since it would negatively affect their cap for so long. They need something substantial back.
Boston Celtics: Boston becomes interesting again whether or not they lose out Gordon Hayward. They still have a ton of assets. They already lost out on Paul George and Jimmy Butler, which would theoretically make them open to trying to add another star to the team in an attempt to come out of the Eastern Conference this season. The only way the Celtics would be interested in Anthony directly is if Hayward re-signs with the Jazz. With George and Butler already moved, there would be no shooters left of interest to the Celtics. The return would not be huge. The Knicks would hope for Jae Crowder and one of the protected or late first-round picks the Celtics have. Boston can also just take Anthony into their space.
If the Celtics land Hayward, they might want to re-engage for a chance to land Love. If the Cavs are open to an Anthony-for-Love swap, a three-way deal could get done. The Cavs would receive Anthony and another player they desire from the Celtics – someone from the group of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Crowder. The Celtics would get Love, and the Knicks would get some kind of combination of future picks and young players from the Celtics. If Boston still wants Love and the Cavs decide they prefer Anthony to him, this could work.
Phoenix Suns: This is something a few of my Twitter followers brought up to me. I don’t think it makes sense for the Suns, but if they are that desperate to move one of their guards — Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight — it could work. In this deal, the Cavs would once again have to be willing to swap Love for Anthony. The Suns would take on Love’s deal, while the Knicks would take back either Bledsoe or Knight. New York would also try to get a future pick from the Suns, and the Cavs could try to get another role player to assist a possible championship run. If I’m the Suns, I want to rebuild and wouldn’t do this . But it depends on the front office.
As you can see, the Knicks are still going to be very hard-pressed to find a taker for Anthony. His contract, no-trade clause, trade kicker and deteriorating defense and athleticism make him very hard to move.
Interest In Rose Or Not?
It is still rumored the Knicks might have some interest in Derrick Rose at the right price, but others are reporting Steve Mills has no interest in him. A sign-and-trade report by ESPN’s Ian Begley is the most recent piece of information. Any trade where the Knicks could obtain a future pick or young player would be fantastic. The Knicks should just be happy to let him walk and find a younger guard who is more interested in setting up their teammates and playing defense than scoring themselves.
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