The New York Knicks will have their hands full if they want to find a team willing to take on Carmelo Anthony in a trade.
“I don’t have any answers for you guys tonight.”
That’s what New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told reporters after his team’s latest defensive disaster. After New York gave up 123 points to an Indiana Pacers team that averages just 105.8, it’s hard to blame Anthony for being speechless.
But a silent Melo is a far cry from the passionate Melo we’ve all grown to love. The Melo who speaks of must-win mentalities and doesn’t take any crap from his Hall of Fame boss. The guy with no answers sounds like he’s about had it.
Maybe the nine-time All-Star is even willing to waive the pesky no-trade clause in the cushy contract he negotiated with Phil Jackson roughly three months after the Zen Master accepted his position as President of Basketball Operations.
The 32-year-old may finally be ready to move on from a Knicks team that was supposed to be in “win-now” mode after acquiring Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah during the offseason but has barely moved the needle regarding progress.
If the franchise is willing to change directions and build around Kristaps Porzingis then moving Anthony is the logical move.
However, in the words of Lee Corso: “Not so fast my friend!”
The rest of the Association doesn’t care about New York’s reasoning. Finding a team that’s willing to take on Anthony and all of his baggage won’t be easy.
Because Anthony has his flaws. He’s shooting a career-low 42.0 percent from the field and just 34.7 percent from three-point range, but still leads New York in total FGA, three-point FGA, and usage percentage.
There are two guaranteed seasons left on his $124 million deal (although he has an early termination option for 2018-19) that add up to over $54 million. He also has a trade kicker which increases his salary by 15 percent if he is dealt. Yes, Melo gets a bonus for his employer not wanting him anymore.
Melo The Passer
Whatever team trades for Anthony must be willing to accommodate his particular needs. He can’t be effective unless the ball is in his hands. But Anthony will need to be a passer as well as a scorer with his new team.
That passing role is important because if Anthony were to go someplace else, he wouldn’t be the defacto number one option anymore. He’ll need to play more like he did last season instead of his current performance.
After averaging a career-high in assists per game and assist percentage in 2015-16, Anthony’s passing stats are back down to their mediocre career averages. He’s also shown flashes of the passing that earned him some rare media praise.
Like this great look in Melo’s sweet spot from the elbow during his ten assist game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 36 appearances, Anthony has had seven games with five or more assists. The forward is averaging 22.0 points, but shooting just 37.2 percent during those crucial games.
Melo did what great offensive players do. He found another way to contribute when his shot wasn’t falling. Unfortunately, he’s also finished 25 of his games in 2016-17 with three or fewer dimes. It’s been feast or famine.
Could Melo Stay In The Division?
A couple of teams that would take the home run swing and go after Melo are in the Atlantic Division.
The Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors. Both squads are contenders and in need of another scorer to compete with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics have more picks than they know what to do with so the Knicks should be able to get a good return if they were able to ship Melo to Beantown.
If a Millsap deal were to fall through then, a future Hall of Fame swingman isn’t a bad fallback option for the Raptors. As good as they are, they need at least another piece to compete with LeBron.
Melo And Russ
Two of the biggest ball hogs in the Association. On paper, it looks like a recipe for disaster. They’re both in the top 10 in FGA and field goal misses, and the top 20 in three-point FGA and usage percentage.
So why would Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti trade for Anthony and pair him with his superstar point guard?
As incredible as Russell Westbrook has been his squad is just 22-16 and seeded seventh in the Western Conference. It’s not enough.
Melo In D.C.
The Washington Wizards have been a disappointment in the first season under new head coach Scott Brooks. General manager Ernie Grunfeld is on the hot seat and will be desperate to make a move at the trade deadline.
Last season the Wizards traded a first round pick (protected to the ninth spot) for Markieff Morris, and it hasn’t exactly pushed them over the top. They’re a game under .500 and seeded ninth in the jumbled Eastern Conference.
They’d still need another big man to help on defense but acquiring Melo would make them a top four seed. A desperate general manager would make that move.
To Sum Things Up
The list of teams willing to take on Melo is short, and the list of teams he’d be willing to leave New York for is likely even shorter. So trading him is probably not an option in the immediate future.
But you have to wonder how long he’ll be able to put up with all of the new systems and roster revampings. Melo turns 33-years-old in May. He won’t wait much longer.