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NBA: Should Cleveland Cavaliers Try to Trade for Carmelo Anthony?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The New York Knicks won 54 games last season. Carmelo Anthony was in the MVP conversation and things were good in the Big Apple.

This year, New York is on pace to win just 20 games, and Anthony has already stated his desire to become a free agent this summer.

Oh, how things can change.

Common knowledge would say to explore a trade for Anthony before he bolts, but the Knicks supposedly want to keep Melo no matter what.

If the losing continues in New York, and the Knicks decide to shop Anthony before he potentially leaves them high and dry, there is a team in the East that just so happens to need a small forward.

Why would Cleveland want Melo?

For one, he's pretty good.

OK, so maybe that's an understatement. Anthony is an All-Star, scoring champion and about as good an offensive player as you'll find in the NBA.

He can play either forward position, but has primarily been a small forward throughout his career. This just happens to be the Cavaliers' biggest position of need.

The Cavs could also use a second scoring punch next to Kyrie Irving. As a team, Cleveland is just 21st in the NBA in scoring at 97.8 points a game. Anthony is a lifetime 25.0 point-per-game scorer who's putting up 25.4 a night this season, along with 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

Despite an 8-13 start to the season, the Cavs are just a game out of the playoffs, and only 2 1/2 out of the No. 3 seed in the East. Adding a star like Anthony would almost assure them home-court advantage in the playoffs.

What would a trade look like?

Both Cleveland and New York are over the salary cap, so the exchanged salaries in any trade would have to equal out. This could be tricky for the Cavs, as Anthony is making $21.4 million this season.

Cleveland's two highest-paid players are Andrew Bynum ($12.3 million) and Anderson Varejao ($9 million). The Cavs would probably prefer to part with Varejao first, since he's actually been less durable than Bynum the past three years.

The Cavs would also have to send some young talent and draft picks to New York.

Cleveland won't part with Irving, but Dion Waiters would be a nice starting point.

If New York really wanted to gamble on upside, Anthony Bennett could join Waiters and Varejao in a package deal. The Cavs have three first-round picks in 2015, including those of the Memphis Grizzlies (protected 1-5 and 15-30) and Miami Heat (protected 1-10). One of these could be in play, as the Knicks are low on draft picks.

Here's what a final offer could look like, as approved by ESPN's Trade Machine:

Cavaliers Receive: SF Carmelo Anthony

Knicks Recieve: SG Dion Waiters, SF/PF Anthony Bennett, C Anderson Varejao, 2015 first-round pick (via Memphis Grizzlies)

Should the Cavs make it happen?

As tempting as it would be to add a player like Anthony, the Cavaliers should ultimately pass.

Melo just wouldn't be a good fit in Cleveland.

For one, he's not a good defender, something that the Cavs are trying to base their entire team around. Second, there could be an alpha dog issue with both Melo and Irving wanting to run the team.

Cleveland could see Anthony walk in free agency, and would also be without the key pieces it dealt to get him in the first place. With his current salary, Melo eats up about a third of a team's salary cap. The Cavs will need that money to bring in additional help should they want to re-sign Irving, Tristan Thompson and others to long-term deals.

A player like Luol Deng, although not the star Anthony is, would be a much better fit on a team like the Cavaliers and would come at roughly half the price.

If Anthony does end up on the trade market, Cleveland would be wise not to pursue him.

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Greg Swartz is a Northeast Ohio native who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA on the Yahoo Contributor Network and Bleacher Report. You can find a collection of his articles here and follow him for more NBA news.
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