With the New York Knicks' season filled with internal strife and their championship hopes in shambles, it seemed that Carmelo Anthony was the only untouchable on the roster. Well, if it means acquiring Blake Griffin, perhaps Anthony isn't so safe after all.
According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, sources close to the situation indicate that New York is considering sending a proposal to the Clippers that would swap the two All-Star forwards. Although both sides are still hesitant, Broussard reports that the Clippers have also had internal discussions regarding Anthony.
The teams are not believed to have spoken to one another about the potential blockbuster. All sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, so it is unclear how high up the food chain a proposal or potential proposal has gotten within the organizations.
Of the two, the Knicks are more likely to be the aggressor in talks. While their preference is to keep Anthony long term and sign him to a maximum contract extension, there has been no such commitment from Anthony yet. The enigmatic forward has an option to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and with the Knicks sitting at 10-22 heading into Sunday's game against the Dallas Mavericks, speculation has run rampant that Anthony could look to bolt.
“I think he’s leaving," a former teammate told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. "I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.”
New York is the only team that can offer Anthony a five-year contract under the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, though a sign-and-trade is a possibility if Anthony leaves. Such a deal could be worth about $129.1 million—$30 million more than any other team can offer. The extra financial security gives the Knicks at least somewhat of an advantage, but with Dwight Howard's departure for the Houston Rockets looming over the league, New York's front office cannot afford to lose Anthony without recouping value.
For now, though, the Knicks seem staunchly against pulling the trigger on any Anthony trade. A source told Marc Berman of the New York Post that the report was "extremely silly." General manager Steve Mills is said to prefer keeping Anthony over everything and will only consider moving him in a sign-and-trade over the summer.
Still, Berman indicates that numerous Anthony destinations have already began cropping up. Anthony and Chris Paul have been linked together several times prior, dating back to a toast at the former's wedding in 2010, and the Clippers remain an attractive possibility. The Lakers and Bulls are also considered suitors.
Berman later provided a statement from Anthony discussing the rumor:
Melo in good mood at shootaround, joking about report of heading to Clips for Blake, quoting Rivers and The Post. "Was stupid and silly."— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) January 5, 2014
Al Iannazzone of Newsday continued:
Melo also said of ongoing rumors of he and Chris Paul teaming up, "it never happens."— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 5, 2014
The Clippers have also publicly balked at any Anthony-for-Griffin trade. Using the word "stupid" multiple times, Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers unequivocally dismissed the possibility that the 24-year-old forward could be headed to the Big Apple.
"If you're the Knicks or whoever, would you want Blake Griffin? I would," Rivers said, per ESPN. "So I don't see what the story is."
Many, including Grantland's Bill Simmons, have also pointed out a potential deal would be slanted heavily in the Knicks' favor:
I love the way Blake Griffin is playing lately. Wouldn't trade him for Melo. The Melo trade partner that makes the most sense - Phoenix.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) January 4, 2014
Although Simmons' suggestion is pure speculation, the Phoenix Suns would be an interesting match. Phoenix has a war chest of assets with draft picks and young players, including as many as four first-round draft picks in 2014. The Suns have also exceeded all expectations thus far, compiling a 20-12 record despite being expected to be chief among those tanking for a high draft pick in June.
Getting Anthony to stay in Phoenix long term would be more difficult, with 'Melo's departure from Denver being rooted partially in his desire to play in a big market. But if the Knicks feel Anthony is going to leave and they can acquire assets in the talent-rich 2014 draft, it's something they have to consider.
Just don't expect it to happen anytime soon.
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