New York Knicks

5 NBA Teams That Would Be Best Potential Fits for Carmelo Anthony Trade

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2014

5 NBA Teams That Would Be Best Potential Fits for Carmelo Anthony Trade

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Can you imagine a world in which Carmelo Anthony doesn't play for the New York Knicks

    If you already can, good for you. If you can't, you better start opening your mind to the possibility. 

    The closer we get to the trade deadline without the Knicks turning things around and vaulting up not only into the realm of playoff contenders, but also the area that true title contenders hang out in, the more likely it becomes that 'Melo won't last the season in his blue-and-orange uniform. 

    Just as was the case when Anthony played for the Denver Nuggets, the Knicks can't afford to let him walk away for nothing. If he opts out of his contract at the end of the 2013-14 season, a possibility becoming more likely with each loss and negative story, New York will get nothing. 

    So, it's better to get something now. 

    ESPN the Magazine's Chris Broussard reported on Jan. 4 that the Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers were discussing a trade that would swap 'Melo and Blake Griffin. Just about everyone in the world called that one bogus, but this is the start of something. 

    A trade between the Clippers and Knicks won't work, but get ready for the rumors about Anthony trades in general. They're coming now that Broussard has opened the floodgates. 

    The destinations featured in this article aren't necessarily rumored ones, but they all make sense. That's the key here, as we're looking at the landing spots that actually work from the perspective of the team acquiring the high-scoring small forward. 

Detroit Pistons

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    Allen Einstein/Getty Images

    Potential Trade: Josh Smith and Rodney Stuckey for Carmelo Anthony

     

    It's time for the Detroit Pistons to pull the plug on the Josh Smith experiment, swapping him for a player who's actually meant to line up at small forward and can make at least a few of the long-range shots that he attempts. 

    J-Smoove has attempted 3.9 three-pointers per game during his first season in Motor City, and he's hitting only 25 percent of those looks. That's a large part of the reason that he's hitting just 40 percent of his shots from the field, largely devaluing the 15 points he scores per contest. 

    On the other hand, 'Melo is firing away four times per game from downtown, and he's shooting 37.5 percent. 

    Anthony—though he's a dominant back-to-the-basket player who can score in a variety of ways—is actually meant to play on the perimeter. He'd be a much better fit beside Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, providing the floor spacing that is so desperately needed in Detroit. 

    Even if it means parting ways with a surprisingly impressive Rodney Stuckey and giving up on Smith after less than half a season, it's a good idea for the Pistons. 

Golden State Warriors

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Potential Trade: Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton for David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Jermaine O'Neal (trade exception used)

     

    The Golden State Warriors are giving up a lot here. Well, that's what it seems like, at least. 

    But parting ways with David Lee and Harrison Barnes—while a bitter pill to swallow—is more than worth it, as the Dubs would be pairing two of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA. Plus, it's time that we accept Barnes' true value. 

    Yes, he's full of potential. Yes, he's a high-upside guy who performed quite well during the 2013 playoffs. Yes, he's a recent top draft pick who should by no means be given up on. 

    But that doesn't mean he's untouchable. 

    Barnes would presumably put up better numbers if he were a featured player, but he's still playing over 30 minutes per game for Golden State and averaging only 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 dimes. Those aren't star numbers, nor are they even close. 

    As for Lee, he's a fantastic offensive player, but it's time to sell high.

    'Melo can start at power forward, and that makes the offense even more difficult to stop because he's a more versatile player than Lee and can also post up without too much difficulty. 

    These Dubs would be insanely difficult to slow down at any point during the game, and there would be no shortage of players who could heat up at any given moment. Additionally, Raymond Felton could fix their backup point guard problem. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Potential Trade: Carmelo Anthony for Pau Gasol and a future first-round pick

     

    Carmelo Anthony is going to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason, right? So why not make it even more of a sure thing?

    Now obviously, there's no guarantee that 'Melo—if he stays put—will even opt out of his contract to become a free agent after the 2013-14 season. And if he does opt out, there's no guarantee that he'll want to put on a purple-and-gold uniform. 

    But the Lakers could help out their pursuit by acquiring him now, as they'd then be able to offer him a bigger contract than he'd receive from any other team. Parting ways with Pau Gasol wouldn't be the end of the world, especially since he's always on the trade block and would help out the New York Knicks tremendously thanks to his expiring contract. 

    The dream of 'Melo and Kobe Bryant playing together would finally become a reality, and it could serve as a test run before committing to the small forward for the long haul during the offseason. If the Mamba returned to his pre-injury form once finished rehabbing his knee fracture, the Lakers would suddenly have two top-10 players and a motivated supporting cast. 

    It would be much easier for them to turn around this season and prepare for the future, especially because the lack of a first-round pick would take tanking out of the equation. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Potential Trade: Zach Randolph, Jamaal Franklin and future first-round pick for Carmelo Anthony

     

    Of the five teams featured in this article, the Memphis Grizzlies are definitely the dark horses. 

    They aren't typically connected to the New York Knicks, and they stubbornly refuse to blow up a roster that wasn't working before Marc Gasol got hurt and hasn't really done much since he sprained his MCL on Nov. 22 against the San Antonio Spurs

    Zach Randolph, much like Anthony, can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2013-14 season. But if he doesn't, the Knicks still wouldn't mind having a two-year deal for such a talented big man. They'd also benefit from acquiring two more assets, coming in the form of Jamaal Franklin and a future draft pick. 

    As for the Grizzlies, they'd finally get a shooter. 

    Whether he takes Z-Bo's spot at power forward or stays at his natural position and makes Memphis go big with Kosta Koufos and Gasol, he'd spread the court and help a team that really needs to do so. According to Hoopsstats.com, only the Knicks—ironically enough—average fewer points per game outside the paint. 

    Worried about 'Melo's desire to stay in Memphis past the end of the 2013-14 season? Let's allow B/R's Jonathan Wasserman to take it away: 

    Anthony would need a $33-million-dollar reason to opt out of his contract and sign with someone else. That's what it would cost him to exercise his early termination and bolt in free agency, based on the deal the Knicks can offer versus what other teams can offer. 

    The same would hold true in this scenario, but you'd replace "Knicks" with "Grizzlies." 

    Playing in a big market is nice, but so is $33 million. 

Phoenix Suns

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Potential Trade: Carmelo Anthony for Emeka Okafor, Alex Len and most favorable 2014 first-round pick

     

    How can the Phoenix Suns become an even more deadly team?

    Add a go-to scorer with experience leading a team. 

    Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have been doing a fantastic job handling the majority of the scoring duties for this up-and-coming Phoenix squad, but they could use an established star. 'Melo would take so much pressure off the starting backcourt members, and they'd get even more efficient than before. 

    But the best part of this move would be that the moves don't weaken the team in any way. 

    Emeka Okafor hasn't played since being traded away from the Washington Wizards, and his only real value to the New York Knicks would be his status as an expiring contract. Alex Len has spent only 31 minutes on the court for Phoenix, and his value has been lessened thanks to the presence of Miles Plumlee. 

    Plus, general manager Ryan McDonough has already gone on the record with NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, telling the world that he'd like to trade some of his assets and abundance of draft picks for a star: 

    I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks. Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. 

    'Melo counts as a star. 

    How scary does a starting five of Dragic, Bledsoe, Anthony, Channing Frye and Plumlee sound? 

    I'll answer for the rest of the Western Conference: pretty terrifying. 

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