Carmelo Anthony says a trade isn’t off the table. Carmelo Anthony says he isn’t complete averse to waiving his no-trade clause, and seeing what the New York Knicks may have to offer him as they literally offer him around the league for compensation via a deal. Carmelo Anthony wants to remind you, though, that it would take a great (figurative) deal in order to convince Carmelo Anthony to leave the home and team he’s known for six years now.
Excuse me, the “team that Carmelo Anthony has known for six years now.”
Carmelo is the NBA’s latest trade saga, with the no-trade clause he and the Knicks agreed to getting in the way of all manner of front office formulations as team president Phil Jackson decides what to do with his 21-28 team. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today has the latest non-word about Melo’s status, from the Melo himself:
“I hear the new report every day,” Anthony said Tuesday morning. “Every day is a new team. ‘Melo said this, Melo said that.’ Melo hasn’t said anything yet. That’s what I will say. Melo hasn’t said anything yet.”
Are the Knicks, specifically team president Phil Jackson, including him on the briefings?
“I don’t think there’ll be any day-to-day conversations about it,” Anthony said. “If it’s something that’s imminent that they want to come to me and talk about, I’m pretty sure I’ll get that meeting or get that phone call. No conversations happening on a consistent basis or even a day-to-day basis.”
As always, it comes down to whether or not Carmelo Anthony would leave New York.
If 21-28 (after winning 32 games with the team in 2015-16 and 17 the year before) isn’t enough to encourage Melo to move, then the setting would really have to take over. It would have to eclipse New York’s, and as just about every other city has found over the last two centuries, good luck with all … that:
“That’s more about what I care about — my family, my son being comfortable in New York and at an age now where he really gets an opportunity to understand being in New York and having a home there and having friends there and my wife working there and having her opportunities there,” Anthony said. “I think about that more so of my decision for my career. At the end of the day, it will come down to my decision, but I think about what my family is thinking and what they’ll have to go through if anything.”
The NBA has trade drama just about every year, with stars both pre and past their primes looking to angle their way toward having cake and eating it, too. In the NBA, this means being able to be paid as much as humanely possible, while getting to work alongside fellow stars and, hopefully, friends.
This isn’t to say that NBA stars are money-grubbers who value the check over the championship, far from it, but given the layout of the league superstars would be foolish to not at least attempt to couple a peak lifestyle alongside peak success in the win/loss section of the newspaper.
Anthony isn’t alone in his function as a past-prime star that still has plenty to give (including 45, on Sunday, against Atlanta), looking for a trade away from the team he’s currently situated with. NBA stars, dating back decades, have tried to re-shape their careers with the help of their front office after things had gone pear-shaped, but in most cases the only fear the next team had to reckon with was the idea that the star could hold out from his new team if the setting was not to his liking.
This is why, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar moved on from the Milwaukee Bucks, he demanded to be dealt to either New York or Los Angeles; but also why you don’t see too many perfect trading setup for both player and team, least of all trading partner. This is also why most stars, not exactly keen to give back the sort of money they’d be legally required to part with after holding out (Alonzo Mourning being the exception here, thanks to some Canadian kindness), usually wait until free agency to make their big break.
Carmelo Anthony, in 2011, couldn’t have that. A free agent that offseason, he still chose to push to be dealt to New York even if it meant the Knicks mostly gutting its roster save for new signee Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire and eventual 2011 offseason signee Tyson Chandler would both be gone by 2014-15, the first year of ‘Melo’s new contract extension.
It is years later, and the Knicks are still Carmelo Anthony’s absolute creature in this matter. Coach Jeff Hornacek, not unfamiliar with being dragged into some chatter of his own, admitted as much recently:
“He has control.”
“Like anything else, talk is out there. He’s trying to focus on playing and helping his team win. At the end, he has the final say. He’s going to keep playing for us, and guys have to put all that stuff aside and keep playing.”
On Sunday, in discussing the future for the asset-heavy Boston Celtics, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett added to the talk. The talk that is out there:
But the C’s do have interest in Anthony for themselves, as well. They have for a long time. And it’s no doubt their attention gained an even greater degree when word filtered out that the Celts are one of the clubs for whom Carmelo would consider waiving his no-trade clause.
The question in this case, and, really, in every case, is price. According to multiple sources, there have been, as of the weekend, no formal trade talks between the Celts and New York, but that was largely because the Knicks are believed to be asking a Melo’s ransom for the star.
Of course, if looking for a star, why not go after Chicago’s Jimmy Butler? A star teaching us season by season that he appears unfit for the role of a team leader, yet still reminding us night after night that he’s one of the league’s best. Via Celtics Blog, here’s the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson:
There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets’ first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.
Butler is not only five years younger than Carmelo Anthony, but he’s already a superior all-around player to the 32-year old Knickerbocker small forward. If Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is going to cash in on all the assets he’s spent four years collecting, it better be for something franchise-altering. It better not be for a player old enough to have once appeared on ‘Cribs.’
Boston’s ascension to No. 2 in the East, with Isaiah Thomas leading the charge, only clouds things.
What remains is as clearer than ever. The only thing that will get Carmelo Anthony to re-consider his view of his trade clause is a complete and total change of mind. Considering the fact that he’s shifted little since the day he chose the “right, bleepin’, now”-option in his deal to New York rather than waiting until free agency hit in 2011, don’t hold your breath.
Or the phone.
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