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Carmelo Anthony has made his position clear. He wants to stay in New York, and to try to win a championship in New York, as a member of the New York Knicks, and he is not interested in waiving the no-trade clause in his contract to facilitate a move somewhere else just because the Knicks are struggling right now.
If team president Phil Jackson and company, though, were to decide to make their struggles, shall we say, a little more official? Well, then, the 11-time All-Star might ponder changing his tune.
From a new chat with Al Iannazzone of Newsday:
Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract, but he said he would be willing to listen to management if they told him they wanted to make a change.
“I think it will be more on the front office,” Anthony told Newsday this week. “I have the power, but still I would talk to them. We would be in communication if they feel like they want to go in a different direction, they want to start rebuilding for the future. If they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing, yeah, I have to consider it.”
The Knicks declined to comment.
Anthony’s latest comments come on the heels of a Tuesday meeting with Jackson in which he “reaffirmed his longstanding commitment to remaining with the Knicks,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
In the meeting, Jackson told Anthony he did not subscribe to the criticisms in the article and the story did not speak for him, sources said. […]
Anthony has three years left on his contract, including an early termination option for the 2018-19 season. Anthony has $26.2 million guaranteed for the 2017-18 season and $27.9 million for the 2018-19 option season. If Anthony were to waive his no-trade clause, he’s owed a 15 percent trade kicker – roughly an additional $10 million.
Trading Anthony would be exceptionally complicated. The Knicks would need to find a suitor for whom ‘Melo would be willing to waive the NTC, and — given the 32-year-old’s not likely to be enthused about playing for anything but teams with a shot at contending if he’s already going to be leaving New York City and uprooting his family — that limits the pool to semi-realistic title contenders.
Said suitor would have to be confident enough that Anthony is likely to continue producing at an All-Star-or-close-to-it level for the balance of his contract to be willing to fork over the kind of assets Jackson would seek in a rebuilding effort: young, cost-controlled talent with star upside and unprotected first-round draft picks. The acquiring team would also have to be able to offer both a more stable environment than Madison Square Garden (easy enough!) and a large enough role for Anthony to avoid going from the No. 1 option in New York to a complementary piece on a smaller stage (not necessarily so easy for an established contender). Finding a team that checks all of those boxes is … well, as CBS Sports’ Matt Moore detailed earlier this week, it’s basically impossible.
It also might be a moot point, because Anthony’s hypothetical is contingent on Jackson making it clear to him that he intended to steer the Knicks into a full-scale rebuild.
Sure, that might be a very sensible move, considering New York already has a future foundational piece in rising star Kristaps Porzingis and owns its own first-round pick in a 2017 NBA draft viewed by many draftniks to be chock full of top-flight talent. But making that choice would force Jackson to publicly admit wrongdoing and defeat on the big-swing moves he made this summer — trading comparatively low-cost center Robin Lopez, the expiring contract of Jose Calderon and 2015 first-round pick Jerian Grant to Chicago for Derrick Rose, who has had an up-and-down half-season in Gotham, and handing Joakim Noah a four-year, $72 million contract to replace Lopez, a deal that already looks like a millstone. In a year that’s already seen him take a public beating over his regrettable reference to LeBron James’ friends and business partners as his “posse,” is Jackson ready to submit to another dragging just a half-season into his latest attempt to fix the franchise with which he won a championship as a player in 1973?
On one hand, the Knicks’ current predicament — 12 losses in 15 games after Thursday’s weird and controversial loss to the Washington Wizards, an 18-24 mark that’s actually two games behind the pace the Knicks set last season prior to the firing of Derek Fisher — might offer enough evidence that things aren’t working for the Zen Master to choose to change course. On the other, though, a big chunk of that slide came with Porzingis either sidelined or limited by Achilles tendinitis, and even amid all the losing, New York’s just 2 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the East. It’s easy enough to imagine Jackson and company thinking some of New York’s bad luck in close-and-late games will turn, that a winning streak might be just around the corner, and that keeping alive hope of pushing for a playoff berth behind Anthony, Porzingis and Rose is more attractive in the here and now than declaring themselves open for business.
Whether or not Jackson believes the Knicks have already reached the point of no return, and whether he’s able to orchestrate an exit that ‘Melo would sign off on, remains to be seen. For now, though, while Anthony remains insistent that he’s not looking to live anywhere but the Big Apple, it’s at least worth noting that he’s becoming more open to keeping his options open.
“Everything I’ve built myself on has been about winning,” he told Newsday’s Iannazzone. “I want to win here in New York. If that time comes when it’s time for me to really figure out what’s my next move, leaving or not, then I’ll figure it out.”
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