Carmelo Anthony isn’t coming back.
If his impending free-agency decision was based solely on finances, staying with the New York Knicks would be the obvious choice—the ‘Bockers can offer him more money than anyone else.
But as he approaches 30 years of age, the 10-year veteran, who will opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent, needs to win.
What I’d tell him is what I would tell any NBA great player. If you’re a great player in the NBA, for you to be recognized as a great player, you have to win a championship. It’s as simple as that. And I think you have to put yourself in the best position possible to win a championship.
LeBron James did it. He did get some criticism for the way it went down, but he got himself with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and has been able to win championships. And it’s changed the image of LeBron James forever.
I think you have to be in a place that you have a chance to win a championship. I think Carmelo loves New York, but I would tell him, “Let’s try to get some place where you can win this thing.”
So with Anthony likely on his way out, it’s time for the Knicks to do something unheard of in the Big Apple—make a genuinely smart front office decision.
As painful as it is, New York must trade ‘Melo.
The prospective deal
Allow me to start by saying that this is not a rumor, and this is not a trade that’s currently in the works. This is strictly an idea that I’ve concocted, one that would satisfy all of the teams involved.
Now let’s get down with it. In this deal…
The Knicks would receive:
- Rajon Rondo
- Carlos Boozer
- Jeff Green
- Brandon Bass
- 2015 second round pick (Chicago)
- 2016 second round pick (Celtics)
The Boston Celtics would receive:
- Amar’e Stoudemire
- Taj Gibson
- Raymond Felton
- Tim Hardaway Jr.
- 2014 first round pick (Chicago)
- 2015 first round pick (Chicago)
- 2018 second round pick (Knicks)
The Chicago Bulls would receive:
- Carmelo Anthony
- Phil Pressey
- 2017 second round pick (Celtics)
Knicks’ point of view
Instead of conserving draft picks, making shrewd front office decisions and growing a contender, New York has tried to solve its flaws with money. It hasn’t worked.
The Knicks need to be blown up and rebuilt from the bottom, but the problem is that they’ve made a number of mind-boggling trades that included first-round selections. B/R’s Jim Cavan broke that situation down in January, shattering the hearts of NYK fans everywhere.
In my prospective deal, the Knicks would get a pair of second-rounders, which is great for them, but they’d also get four strong players in return.
But most importantly, they’d get the star that they’ve coveted since the dawn of time—Rajon Rondo.
New York has been pursuing the superstar PG all season with the (blind) hope that attaining him would convince Anthony to re-sign this summer.
But you can’t contend in the modern NBA without a point guard, and Rondo will be the first great floor general to suit up for the Knicks since Walt Clyde Frazier (swishing and dishing!). Without ‘Melo, Rondo will become the new franchise player and give the Knicks someone to build around.
Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Carlos Boozer would give New York three reliable frontcourt players who are sound both offensively and defensively. For the first time in recent memory, the Knicks would actually have a well-rounded team—inside and out and on both ends of the floor.
Chicago’s point of view
When the Bulls traded Luol Deng, it was clear that they were making room for a big name.
The team cleared up space and got three future picks in return from the Cleveland Cavaliers, which can now be swung around to acquire Anthony.
Playing for Chicago, alongside Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, would give Anthony a better chance to raise his first NBA championship banner than if he were to re-sign with the Knicks. In my prospective blockbuster, the Bulls would be doling out three picks, but they’d be bringing in a bona fide superstar in return.
Boozer is overpaid, and there a possibility that he’d be amnestied in order to clear up space for Anthony to sign this summer. Dealing both Boozer and Taj Gibson, who’s under contract through the 2017 season, is a no-brainer when bringing in the NBA's reigning scoring champ.
The Bulls, who could start Anthony at either forward spot, would instantly be elevated into championship contender status once Rose returns to full health.
Parting ways with so many picks might be a bit difficult, but the prospect of building the city’s first championship team since the Michael Jordan days would be enough to make Chi-town pull the trigger on this deal.
Boston’s point of view
The Celtics need to tank.
Mediocrity is a death sentence in the NBA. It’s better to be absolutely terrible and build up your draft stock than it is to get stuck in the prison of ordinariness, not contending but not flopping either.
As of February 14, Boston was 19-35, fourth in the Atlantic division and under five games out of a playoff spot. They’re not very good, but they’re also not bad enough. Right now, Boston is stuck in the quicksand that comes with being a merely average team.
It’s nearly impossible to tank with a star player like Rondo and a great coach like Brad Stevens running the team. And that’s why trading Rondo is Boston’s best option.
In my prospective trade, the C’s would haul in three more draft picks (they’ve already got three first-round selections this season alone), a young stud in Tim Hardaway Jr. and another bruising big man in Gibson to play next to Jared Sullinger.
Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract is easily the worst in the NBA. But unlike Green’s deal, STAT’s comes off the books after next season, which would allow Boston to explore a loaded 2016 free-agency class.
Boston would be the only team not landing a true superstar in my deal, but that’s actually a good thing. This year, the Celtics should be terrible, but having players like Rondo, Green and Bass simply makes that impossible.
It’s time for Boston to flop, tank, roll over—whatever you want to call it. Because even though it isn't landing a ‘Melo-level player here, they’ll have the chance to select a handful of studs through the draft over the next few years.
Time is running out for NYK
None of these teams would be able to turn this deal down. The Bulls are getting their franchise player, the Knicks would get a superstar point guard and pieces to build around, and Boston would load up on even more draft picks and completely tank this season.
Is this trade likely? No. But it, or at least something similar, should be being pursued by the Knicks.
Despite a Yahoo! Sports report claiming that there is “no chance” that New York trades ‘Melo before the February 20 trade deadline, Anthony’s recent comments in regards to his impending free agency may come across as alarming to Knicks fans.
“I want to win a championship,” Anthony said on a Valentine’s Day edition of SportsCenter. “I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to win a championship. If that means testing free agency and seeing what happens, then so be it.”
‘Melo went on to downplay the financial aspect of his decision. “I have money. I’m good if I wanted to retire right now.”
For those who insist that Anthony will stay in New York, reach deep within your soul and ask yourself this question: Can the Knicks contend anytime soon? (If your answer is yes, please see a doctor immediately.)
The Knicks need to trade Anthony before the deadline, cash in and build a team from scratch. And the blockbuster deal discussed above would be a tremendous way of doing so.