New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony Must Continue Pursuing a Trade
Jan 27, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) leaves the court following the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony needs to keep the recently paused trade talks going for the benefit of everyone involved.

The last time Carmelo Anthony had a big decision to make about his future with the New York Knicks was the summer of 2014. He re-signed in New York on a five-year, $124 million contract which included the no-trade clause that will live in infamy. Anthony made the right call, for himself, when he chose to take the money and stay in New York.

Three years (of mediocrity and dysfunction) have passed, and the right decision for Anthony is to get out of New York as fast as he can. Phil Jackson’s out, likely due in large part to his public treatment of Anthony but that shouldn’t stop the inevitable.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported that the Knicks put a pause on trade talks involving the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers. All of a sudden New York is interested in bringing back Melo, and that’s bad news for the ten-time All-Star.

He finally seemed to settle on a new playing destination (Houston), and now the rug has been swept out from under him. After having been so strongly against waiving that no-trade clause, Anthony had finally come around. ESPN’s Ian Begley reports that people surrounding Anthony said this week he was “ready for Houston.”

The superstar player shouldn’t want to return to New York. He may love his teammates. Kristaps Porzingis is his guy; we know that. He likes Ron Baker, too. However, it’s time to move on. Anthony needs to push this trade through. The most powerful man on the team needs to wield power again. For the good of everyone involved.

Why It’s Best for Melo

New York’s front office spent an entire season publicly and privately giving off the impression that they didn’t want Carmelo Anthony on their squad.

Wait, but that was Phil Jackson, and he got fired! James Dolan fixed that! Sorry, too late on the trigger there. The damage was done. Dolan and new president Steve Mills let Jackson destroy Anthony throughout the season.

Houston’s front office has been aggressively pursuing Anthony since the beginning of the offseason. The addition of Anthony’s friend Chris Paul set the wheels in motion for a potential reunion with former head coach Mike D’Antoni.

As weird as it may appear for a coach to team up with the player who once forced him out of a job, forming a big three with Paul and fellow superstar guard James Harden is too tempting for Anthony to pass up.

Houston won 55 games last season without Paul or Anthony. There will be plenty of doubters, but a group of talented veterans should be able to make it work.

LeBron James‘ Cleveland Cavaliers are out. His future is up in the air, and the Cavs either don’t want to trade Kevin Love for Anthony or the Knicks don’t want Love. That trade rumor has floated around long enough. Melo needs to move forward with his plan to Houston.

Only one year remains on Anthony’s deal, along with the contract of Chris Paul. He can always opt out and leave. There’s a reason he, Paul, James, and Dwyane Wade all set their deals to expire in 2018.

Why It’s Best For The Knicks

If New York is going forward with a youth movement, it makes sense to deal the 33-year-old Anthony because he doesn’t fit the role of the veteran mentor. Anthony’s not the backseat taking type. He likes to shoot and score.

Phil Jackson once said of Anthony, “You don’t change the spot on a leopard.” Despite the childish and cowardly way Jackson got his message across, he was still correct. Anthony won’t take a back seat on a crappy Knicks team.

The former Denver Nugget ranks fifth among active players in total field goal makes and takes, and he’s in the top-25 in both categories among every NBA player in history. He’s scored over 24,000 points placing him fifth among active players and in the top-25 among every NBA player in history.

Anthony’s used to a heavy workload. He won’t just give that up. The guy has been in the top-ten in usage percentage in ten different seasons. Despite the recent decline the past two seasons, Anthony’s led the team in usage percentage, FGA, and three-point FGA by a wide margin.

Then there’s the financial aspect of it all. Anthony’s cap hit for the 2017-18 season is $26.2 million (via Trading him should free up a little cash, and the Knicks currently have very little.

Signing a veteran point guard to help mentor Frank Ntilikina once seemed like a priority, but New York gave Ron Baker a two-year, $8.9 million deal and drained most of their remaining cap space following the Tim Hardaway Jr. contract.

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, the Knicks have only $1.5 million in cap space remaining. Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo are still available, but not at that price.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.