Anthony can exercise the early termination option in his contract after this season, making him an unrestricted free agent. That means there's a chance Anthony walks in free agency, and the Knicks get absolutely nothing in return.
Given how this season is playing out and what Anthony has said in the past, that's a scary proposition. Here's what Anthony told the New York Observer earlier this year:
“I want to be a free agent,” Anthony said. “I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.”
While it may seem unlikely that the Knicks would trade Anthony now instead of doing their best to retain him this offseason, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Will the Knicks, dysfunctional as could be right now, really pass Anthony's evaluation test? It's certainly not a sure thing.
But what kind of deal would it take for the Knicks to consider trading Anthony before the trade deadline this season? Which teams might be interested in acquiring the star forward?
I asked some of the writers and editors here at Bleacher Report to concoct a few trades involving Anthony, and the following three deals are the result of that. Let's break down each one and see which team would say no.
Melo to the Boston Celtics
New York Knicks receive: PG Reggie Jackson, SF Jeff Green, C Steven Adams, PF Jared Sullinger, PF Kris Humphries, C Kendrick Perkins, SF Perry Jones.
Boston Celtics receive: SF Carmelo Anthony, C Hasheem Thabeet
Who Says No?
New York and Oklahoma City.
Let's start with New York. This is a pretty good haul of young talent, but trading two elite players and receiving no future first-round picks is pretty rough.
While the Knicks don't particularly value the draft process, any trade of Anthony and Chandler that doesn't bring back more than just current assets is a flawed one, especially if the Knicks are also taking on Jeff Green's pricey long-term contract. This would be less of a rebuild and more of a reload, but the Knicks wouldn't be good enough with their new team to do any real damage.
That said, Oklahoma City is the team that hangs up the phone first, and they likely do it pretty quickly. It's very well possible that the Thunder view rookie center Steven Adams as more valuable than Chandler, simply because he's much younger and cheaper and will be under their control for much longer than Chandler would be. Even if Chandler was viewed as the better piece, taking on Felton's deal and giving up a significantly more valuable player and asset in Jackson is just too much. This isn't the way Oklahoma City conducts business, and that's before you even factor in the luxury tax line OKC would be sure to hit.
As for Boston? This would be highway robbery. Acquiring Anthony for no future draft picks, an expiring contract (Humphries), a bad long-term deal (Green) and Sullinger? It's going to take much, much more than that for Boston to pair Rajon Rondo with another superstar, even if New York is running the risk of losing Anthony.
Melo to the Golden State Warriors
New York Knicks receive: PF David Lee, PG Jeremy Lin, C Omer Asik, SF Harrison Barnes
Houston Rockets receive: C Tyson Chandler, PG Raymond Felton, SF Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors receive: SF Carmelo Anthony
Who Says No?
New York and Houston.
Aside from the draft pick issues I mentioned earlier, this trade doesn't give New York any controllable players on rookie deals outside of Harrison Barnes. While Barnes could develop into a very good player, his bubble has burst a bit this year in Golden State.
Meanwhile, paying David Lee that much money per year, even if being in the luxury tax isn't an issue, is just reckless. Lee just isn't worth that contract, and the length of the deal would hinder New York in free agency in the future. Lee isn't exactly the type of player who can recruit and attract other stars, either.
Bringing back Linsanity would be fun, but there are certainly no guarantees he or Asik would re-sign after next year when both will be unrestricted free agents. There's just too much risk and money being taken on to justify this for New York.
As for Houston, this is truly baffling. While it would be nice to get out from the big salary owed to Asik and Lin ($15 million a piece, even though their cap numbers are at $8 million), this doesn't solve any roster problems. Chandler is great, but backup centers shouldn't make $14 million a year.
We can also assume from the Asik ordeal earlier this year that pairing Dwight Howard with another center in the starting lineup isn't the best idea. I like the idea of trading Lin and Asik together, but Chandler isn't the right guy to bring back. I'm also not sure why Rockets general manager Daryl Morey would help facilitate a deal to give the Warriors one of the league's best players in Carmelo Anthony.
Unless the Warriors give up first-round draft picks until the end of time, this is highly tilted their way. Getting out of Lee's contract alone is a plus by itself, and that's not even factoring in the arrival of Anthony. This trade needs a lot of work.
Melo to the Phoenix Suns
New York Knicks receive: PG Goran Dragic, C Alex Len, C Emeka Okafor
Phoenix Suns receive: SF Carmelo Anthony
Who Says No?
This is definitely the simplest trade of the three being detailed, but it also feels like the most realistic. That would be particularly true if you threw in at least one future first-round pick from Phoenix and possibly another young player like Archie Goodwin into the mix.
Dragic may not have the name value of other point guards around the league, but he's one of the best two-way players at that position. He's also in the prime of his career and on a very reasonable long-term contract. He's a viable candidate to headline a major trade like this, so long as there are other pieces coming back in return.
In Len, the Knicks would get a young big man who many thought would go first in the draft last year. A promising young frontcourt prospect is something the Knicks lack completely right now, so he has good value as well. Okafor's expiring deal is there simply to make the salaries work. Again, with draft picks and an additional rookie-scale player, this could work for the Knicks, especially if they got to dump some unwanted salary in the process.
But what about the Suns? Dragic has been the key component in this great season so far, and his ability to work alongside Eric Bledsoe shouldn't be taken for granted.
That being said, acquiring Anthony would elevate the Suns as a free agent destination and give them one of the game's best scorers to pair with Bledsoe. With a good amount of draft picks to deal and a player who can man the point full time, the Suns would be in a good position to make this trade and keep rolling right along.
Let's hear what you think about these three deals in the comments section. Feel free to leave your own trade idea for Anthony or another player, and we'll try out best to tackle the best ones in the next column.