C.J. McCollum is ready to Photoshop the Blazers into the 'Melo sweepstakes
For right now, at least, Carmelo Anthony continues to wear a New York Knicks uniform. But that doesn’t mean other people can’t use the magic of digital media to imagine what he’d look like in other threads … including, it seems, his fellow NBA players.
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported over the weekend that, despite the decision of new Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills and just-hired general manager Scott Perry to “pause” trade talks aimed at shipping the 33-year-old Anthony out of town, ‘Melo still expects New York to resume those discussions soon. The 10-time All-Star is reportedly willing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract for a move that would allow him to join one of his longtime friends: LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, or Chris Paul with the Houston Rockets.
Anthony’s willingness to waive the no-trade clause eliminates a major hurdle in the process, but many others still exist. After past trades, neither Cleveland nor Houston have much in the way of attractive future draft picks or talented young players on affordable contracts to send to New York to kickstart the Knicks’ rebuild. Given Anthony’s high price tag — two years and $54 million remain on the five-year near-max deal he signed with the Knicks in 2014 — and the 15 percent trade kicker included in his contract (which he could reduce or waive, if he so chose), an acquiring team also has to send enough salary New York’s way to make the trade viable under NBA rules. If the Knicks aren’t interested in keeping such high-priced ballast — say, Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, who’s owed nearly $61.3 million over the next three seasons — on the roster as they try to rebuild, then they have to find other teams who might be interested in taking on salary to become part of the deal.
But what happens when the teams you try to recruit to act as waystations decide they’d rather be a destination? From Woj:
One team that New York and Houston had hoped would facilitate a multiteam trade for Anthony, the Portland Trail Blazers, plans to participate in a deal for Anthony only if he decides to expand his no-trade clause to include them, league sources told ESPN.
Portland believes the addition of a player such as Anthony would furnish it with talent and depth comparable to those of the top Western Conference contenders, except for the Golden State Warriors, league sources said. Because of that, the Blazers have little, if any, inclination to facilitate an Anthony deal that would land him with a Western Conference rival such as Houston, league sources said.
On what we are sure is a completely unrelated note, Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum took to Instagram on Sunday to present a Comcast SportsNet Northwest artist’s rendering of what ‘Melo would look like in Portland’s black, white and red:
A post shared by CJMcCollum (@3jmccollum) on Jul 16, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT
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McCollum didn’t include any caption with the Instagram post. Sometimes, an image speaks for itself.
McCollum hasn’t been shy this offseason about suggesting the Blazers would benefit from an infusion of talent after a 41-41 season that ended with a first-round sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Warriors. In late April, he made it clear on Twitter that he wanted to see Portland general manager Neil Olshey make a run at All-Star forward Paul George. That didn’t pan out, as the Oklahoma City Thunder — the Blazers’ Northwest Division rivals — swung a trade just before the start of free agency to pair George with league MVP Russell Westbrook.
Having spent vast sums of cash last summer, the Blazers had to stay pat in free agency this time around, leaving them still in need of an infusion of talent to make a leap in the Western Conference hierarchy … and McCollum still hitting social media in search of a new running buddy for him and Damian Lillard.
Such social media-based recruitment techniques have become par for the course in the NBA. I mean, McCollum isn’t even the first player this summer to go the “Photoshop ‘Melo into our jersey” route:
Does Nene know something that we don't? pic.twitter.com/AVcIHLHA1v
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) July 10, 2017
Technically speaking, stuff like this would seem to constitute tampering, as defined by the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA’s teams and players:
Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce, or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Exhibit A A-25 Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiates or contracts for such services shall, on being charged with such tampering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained; in the event his decision is that the charges have been sustained, then the Commissioner shall have the power to suspend such Player for a definite or indefinite period, or to impose a fine not exceeding $50,000, or inflict both such suspension and fine upon any such Player.
In practice, though, as detailed last month by Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated, such player-to-player communications are virtually never punished. So even if ‘Melo doesn’t wind up in the Pacific Northwest — which seems likely, as Anthony reportedly still expects to wind up in Houston eventually — C.J. probably doesn’t have to worry too much about getting slapped on the wrist for getting his image-edit on. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter!