Could Boston Celtics Be Perfect Trade Partner in a Carmelo Anthony Deal?

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Could Boston Celtics Be Perfect Trade Partner in a Carmelo Anthony Deal?
Steve Babineau/Getty Images
Once enemies, could Rondo and Melo be future teammates?

With just two weeks and change left before the NBA’s February 20 trade deadline, the New York Knicks find themselves at something of a philosophical—and financial—crossroads.

Should they stand pat and let the season’s pieces fall where they may or get a jump start on the rebuild process and deal Carmelo Anthony?

Meanwhile, a rival’s rebuilding blueprint unfurls apace, with the Boston Celtics enduring loss after loss content in the knowledge that the promise of brighter days is more than worth the price of temporary pain.

Appreciating the two's respective lots for what they are, it doesn’t take much of a leap to arrive at what a few months ago would've seemed an impossible scenario: If the return were right, would the Knicks consider trading Melo to their old nemesis?

The following are just a few examples of trades that could conceivably help both teams—if not for the remainder of this season, then certainly in the years to come.

Steve Babineau/Getty Images
He might not be a superstar, but Sullinger is a solid prospect.

 

DEAL 1

Boston gets: Carmelo Anthony

New York gets: Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kris Humphries, 2014 first-round pick, 2015 first-round pick

 

Why the Knicks say "Yes"

Until Anthony commits to staying in New York long-term, the Knicks have every right to avoid losing their star for nothing while getting what they can—when they can—in return.

Green, though a poor Anthony facsimile, is still a secondary building block. Sullinger, meanwhile, has shown he has the potential to be a 15-point, 10-rebound machine. Finally, Humphries gives the Knicks an expiring contract that can help them fast-forward the rebuild process come next summer.

 

Why the Celtics say "Yes" 

It’s no secret that Anthony and Rajon Rondo are good friends. More importantly, Rondo is exactly the guy you want trying to recruit another superstar to stay in New England. So long as he's happy, of course.

 

DEAL 2

Boston gets: Carmelo Anthony

New York gets: Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, 2014 first-round pick, 2014 second-round pick

 

Why the Knicks say "Yes"

Assuming it’s the better of Boston’s two first-rounders, the Knicks—currently without both of their 2014 picks—have to have a backup plan should the season’s ship officially sink.

 

Why the Celtics say "Yes"

Is a 30-year-old Melo worth a first-round pick? Sure he is. At the same time, context is important: Will Anthony want to weather one more year of struggles for what he hopes is a youth-laden team ready to contend?

At the same time, depending on what moves the team makes in the offseason, Boston might well find itself eyeing a much more accelerated rebuild program. In which case, nabbing Melo probably makes sense.

Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Thad Young has become something of a cult hero.

 

DEAL 3

Boston gets: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire

New York gets: Kris Humphries, Thaddeus Young, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass

Philadelphia 76ers get: Gerald Wallace, Kelly Olynyk, 2014 first-round pick (from Boston via Brooklyn)

 

Why the Knicks say "Yes"

Same logic as above, with the added bonus of shedding Amar’e Stoudemire’s onerous contract and getting back Thaddeus Young—a promising, versatile frontcourt player—and the solid, if unspectacular, Brandon Bass.

 

Why the Celtics say "Yes"

Any trade that gets them out from under the Wallace contract is probably a good one for the Celtics, even if it costs them the lower of the team’s 2014 first-round picks.

 

Why the Sixers say "Yes"

If you're looking for an insurance policy for Nerlens Noel, you could probably do a lot worse than Olynyk—not a star-in-waiting by any means, but a guy who could well turn out to be a solid sixth or seventh man off the bench.

Danny Johnston/Associated Press

 

DEAL 4

Boston gets: Carmelo Anthony

New York gets: Kris Humphries, Tyreke Evans, 2014 first-round pick (Boston), 2015 first-round pick (New Orleans)

New Orleans Pelicans get: Jeff Green

 

Why the Knicks say "Yes"

For all his flaws, Evans is still young and talented enough to illicit cautious optimism. Freed from the backcourt logjam of New Orleans, Evans could be poised for a career renaissance of sorts.

Still, the real deal-sweetener—especially in light of Evans' onerous contract—is the bevy of picks the Knicks could stand to get.

It bears mentioning that Melo heading to Boston doesn't outright guarantee that the Celtics make their way into the playoff fold, meaning there's a good chance that whatever picks of theirs the Knicks end up with could well be in the lottery.

 

Why the Celtics say "Yes"

Simple question: Is Carmelo Anthony—assuming, again, that he’d commit to sticking around long-term—worth Jeff Green and Kris Humphries? Hint: The answer is yes.

 

Why the Pelicans say "Yes"

This gives the Pelicans an easy out—not only from their self-inflicted positional redundancy, but also from Evans’ somewhat onerous contract as well.

 

Dealing with the devil

In the wake of Anthony’s Madison Square Garden record 62-point performance on January 24, the notion that New York would deal him—even with the stock at its apex—seems unlikely.

Indeed, the perils and pitfalls of re-signing Anthony to a second max extension, even at $29 million above what any other team could offer (as reported by ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk), pale in comparison to the greater calculus: Melo will keep the seats filled.

At the same time, this year’s Knicks have proven to be one of the more unpredictable teams in the league: Just in the last month, New York has rattled off a five-game winning streak, a five-game losing streak, and a four-game winning streak, all in succession.

If you’re James Dolan, that’s not exactly putting your mind at ease.

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
Can Melo commit to the Knicks?

The way things are looking right now, the Knicks have a good chance of ending up with the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference—and possibly better, depending on how many teams currently in front of them falter or bow out completely.

But all that belies a deeper question: Is it even worth it?

If all you’re aiming for is a four-game sweep at the hands of the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers, what’s the point in rolling the dice on Anthony sticking around?

What the Knicks need to do is sit down with Melo over the next few weeks and decipher two things: How enthused he is by the idea of staying in New York, and how much of a haircut he’s willing to take in order to improve the roster.

Assuming there’s a middle ground to be struck, it might well be worth the Knicks re-signing Anthony and working to fine-tune their personnel.

Should Melo remain noncommittal, however, no one will blame the Knicks for at least exploring possible trade scenarios—even if it means engaging the team with all the banners.

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