That party didn’t last long.
Not 24 hours after word leaked that the New York Knicks were within striking distance of bringing aboard Phil Jackson, the team’s focus must turn anew to the real elephant in the room: the fate of Carmelo Anthony.
According to a league source, the Rockets will make a bid for Carmelo Anthony this summer, even though they probably won’t have cap space and would have to orchestrate a creative sign-and-trade. The source said Houston asked the Knicks about Anthony before February’s trade deadline.
“Even though they probably won’t have cap space” seems like a pretty powerful caveat here.
Sure, the Rockets could engage the Knicks about a possible sign-and-trade, as Berman notes, but unless they’re willing to part with serious assets—Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Donatas Motiejunas, just for starters—it seems unlikely that the Knicks will pull the trigger.
Unless, of course, Melo makes it clear, either explicitly or implicitly, that he’s willing to leave $29 million on the table and bolt from Manhattan for good.
Which brings us back to the Jackson hire. Feel-good and philosophically intriguing though the move may be, owner James Dolan knows it might be the best internal gamble he has for making sure Melo remains in the Orange and Blue.
But, as the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte first reported, Melo intimated the move won’t have much bearing on his broader plans:
I don’t think it’ll have any effect on me, just as far as what I’m thinking or my decision or anything like that. Like I said, I haven’t talked to Phil yet — just to get his insight on a lot of things, what’s his plan, what’s his future plan.
If that doesn’t sound like the hedging of a cautious man, I don’t know what does. Indeed, there’s a big difference between a particular event not having an effect, and not thinking said event will have an effect.
If the next three months pass without Jackson and Anthony exchanging so much as a hallway glance, then none of these people—not the Knicks, not Jackson, not Melo—knows what they’re doing.
Of course they’re going to talk. Of course Phil is going to pull out the Zen-Jedi mind tricks. Will they work? It’s impossible to say. But it certainly won’t be for lack of trying.
The Rockets aren’t the first team to be implicated in Anthony’s impending free agency, and they certainly won’t be the last.