Carmelo Anthony’s relationship with the New York Knicks soured under president Phil Jackson, who repeatedly badmouthed the 10-time All-Star before signing off his post by declaring Melo would be better off somewhere else, and Jackson’s recent ousting offered both sides a chance to mend fences.
Anthony is now open to waiving the no-trade clause he so often refused to relinquish under Jackson, so long as he’s traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Houston Rockets, according to ESPN. It remains to be seen whether or not the 33-year-old’s decision is a sign that he has begun to repair a relationship with the Knicks that devolved into four straight missed playoff appearances in seven years together.
In fact, even as the report revealed Anthony’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause, the New York brass charged with holding the fort until the organization hires Jackson’s replacement wasn’t doing much to help their cause with Anthony or potential trade partners. NBA TV video surfaced of Knicks general manager Steve Mills laughing while a video played on the phone of another Knicks employee:
Knicks executives laughing at Carmelo's workout tapes is all you need to know about that situation pic.twitter.com/43oGvgf278
— 12up (@12upSport) July 2, 2017
The video appeared to be one from Anthony’s trainer of the Knicks star’s 2 a.m. workout on Sunday:
Footage posted by Melo's trainer, Chris Brickley, of Melo putting in track/cardio work at 2 am this morning: pic.twitter.com/fvKrzh3xUC
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) July 2, 2017
Obviously, Mills and company could have been laughing at something else while the video happened to be playing on one of their phones, but the ado that followed could have been easily dismissed as much about nothing had the organization responded to a request for comment on the poor optics:
Impossible to say w/certainty what's being laughed at in this video w/out asking those involved. NYK didn't respond to request for comment. https://t.co/iG3KOVtyLt
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 3, 2017
The Cavaliers have long been rumored as a potential trade partner for Anthony’s services, given his relationship with LeBron James, and Cleveland was reportedly holding out hope the Knicks might buy out the final two years and $54 million remaining on Melo’s deal. Anthony’s camp was pushing for a buyout agreement from Jackson in the days before his firing and free agency, according to reports.
Likewise, once Anthony’s other Banana Boat buddy Chris Paul was traded to Houston, the Rockets joined the list of his potential buyout landing spots, even with former coach and foe Mike D’Antoni running the show. Given Anthony’s control of the situation, because of a no-trade clause Jackson gave him, it’s unclear how much the Knicks could acquire in return for Anthony from Cleveland or Houston.
The Cavs and Rockets would have to match salaries in order to get the deal done, but neither team is likely to part with an integral part of its core. Houston would almost certainly have to trade the remaining three years and $61 million on Ryan Anderson’s contract to get a deal done, and Cleveland might have to part with Tristan Thompson’s similarly cumbersome contract. The first scenario doesn’t make much sense for the Knicks, and the second would cost the Cavs their only true post presence.
There’s also the complicated matter of recently ousted Cavaliers general manager David Griffin interviewing for Jackson’s job. Nobody knows better what Cleveland should ask for in a potential trade than Griffin, and the Knicks are not expected to deal Melo until a new president is named, which “can take weeks,” per the New York Post. All of which is to say that, while Anthony waiving his no-trade clause is certainly a significant step in the process, there are more hurdles to climb to get a deal done.
Regardless, Anthony’s estranged wife, La La, who recently said his No. 1 priority was to remain close to their son, also softened on that stance, suggesting his time in New York could be coming to a close:
Assuming you guys don't watch @BravoWWHL but Lala said Carmelo leaving the Knicks is a real possibility & that he deserves to win somewhere.
— KG (@KG_NYK) July 3, 2017
But what Anthony deserves and what he gets are two entirely different things. Just ask Phil Jackson.
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