The Rockets can’t find a team willing to take on Ryan Anderson’s contract in a Carmelo Anthony trade. Let’s help them.
The Knicks know Carmelo Anthony wants to go to the Rockets. They want to trade him, and the Rockets want to trade for him. So what’s the holdup? Ryan Anderson and the three-years, $60 million remaining on his contract.
Anderson was a free agent last summer when every team in the NBA was spending like a drunken sailor due to the salary cap increase. He’s a stretch-four with one of the deadliest three-point shots in the Association. That might make him a $20 million player to Mike D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets, but not to anyone else.
The rest of the league — who don’t launch threes at a record rate — sees Anderson as a one trick pony. Per Basketball-Reference, 52 percent of Anderson’s career FGA have been from three-point range. They have good reason to be worried about his defensive inadequacies and committing that kind of money to a guy who’s almost 30 years old.
Fresh off the blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that talks between the two sides are “dormant.” Wojnarowski states the Rockets are seeking help in the form of a third or even a fourth team to get this deal done. In other words, they need someone to take on Anderson’s contract.
Since Daryl Morey and the Rockets front office can’t seem to find this elusive team, we’ll give them a few helpful suggestions.
Finding a team to take this contract on won’t be easy. If it were, Melo would already be in Houston. You need to find a team with a reasonable cap situation that needs shooting. Anderson put up exactly seven threes per game last season and still managed to convert at over a 40 percent clip. Without him, there’s no historic offense for the Rockets. A playoff team would be more likely to accept his services, but you need to explore all options. Something like a friendly reunion with an old friend.
A playoff team would be more likely to accept his services, but you need to explore all options. Something like a friendly reunion with an old friend.
1. Detroit Pistons
Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy is familiar with Anderson from their three seasons together in Orlando (09-12). Anderson won the league’s Most Improved Player Award during the 2011-12 season when he led the league in threes made and attempted.
In 2016-17, Detroit was 26th in three-point attempts per game, 27th in makes, and 28th in percentage. They drafted Duke sharpshooter Luke Kennard and added Avery Bradley and Langston Galloway to help, but they’re not enough.
Their current roster has just three players who made 100 threes in a season — including Galloway and Bradley — with Tobias Harris having done it just once. That was last season, and he made them at just a 34.7 percent clip.
Van Gundy also holds the title of President of Basketball Operations in Detroit meaning he calls the shots on any trades. His Pistons are in a bit of a weird spot right now as a franchise; not bad enough to get a great player in the draft but not good enough to make the playoffs.
The familiarity with Anderson — not to mention the opportunity to dump off albatross point guard Reggie Jackson — could draw SVG into this opportunity.
2. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have spent over $300 million in free agency the past two summers on Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and Serge Ibaka. Their starting lineup is set, but their backups are pathetically weak. In 2016-17, they were 26th in bench points per game. With all that money tied into three players, the Raptors didn’t have a lot to spend on the backups. That’s where Anderson could come in.
Toronto was just 21st in threes made and 22nd in attempts from beyond the arc. It doesn’t help them that their starting shooting guard can’t shoot threes. Even if he is a dominant mid-range player, that’s still a hindrance on the offense.
The Raptors are so forced into the half court because of their dependence on isolation sets that they become stale. Toronto was 22nd in pace and seventh in isolation plays (via NBA.com). Having a sharpshooter like Anderson who can hit deep threes early in the shot clock would help break a team out of an offensive rut.
Toronto is consistently one of the most boring playoff teams in the NBA, and being smacked around by LeBron James in the playoffs can’t be appealing for much longer. Throwing their hat in the ring for a blockbuster trade is just the way to spice things up.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Tom Thibodeau made a lot of noise when he acquired Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Bulls. The head coach/President of Basketball Ops ripped off his old team to bring in the player he helped mold into a superstar.
They’re expecting big things in Minnesota. Namely, a playoff berth for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Here’s the deal though Minny was one of the worst shooting teams in the Association last season, and Butler doesn’t make them any better. He’s just 33.7 percent for his career from three-point range and never made 100 threes in a season.
Thibs brought in Jamal Crawford to try and heal their shooting woes, but one man can only do so much. Even if that one man is a three-time Sixth Man of the Year Award winner. This is a team that finished last in three-point makes and attempts in 2016-17. They were 20th in percentage.
Like Detroit with Reggie Jackson, Minnesota has a contract they’d like to unload. That’d be former Knick Cole Aldrich. He’s signed for two more years at a little over $7 million per season.
It shouldn’t be hard for the Knicks to take on that deal. The second year on the deal is only partially guaranteed (via Spotrac) and while Aldrich was horrendous last year New York won’t be good for at least three years anyway.
Anderson would be great alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. The Twolves franchise players wouldn’t need to shoot as many threes with Anderson in there. He’d be able to focus on his dominant back to the basket game. Last season he took 275 long balls; up from 88 his rookie year.
Thibs was done “rebuilding” after one crummy year. He seems ready to strike in the Western Conference. Anderson would be a great piece to help this young team make a playoff run. You can always use another veteran with years of playoff experience.
Anderson’s contract stinks, but that doesn’t take away from what he brings to the table as a player. He can help a lot of teams with his shooting. It’s a three-point league now after all. The Knicks waited a long time to pull the trigger on a Melo trade, and most of the team’s rosters are set.
That’s a big part of what’s making things so difficult. You can’t trade newly signed players for 90 days. Eventually, the right team will come along, and it’s probably going to be Detroit, Minnesota, or Toronto.