5 Trade Ideas to Finally Get Carmelo Anthony to Houston

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2017

5 Trade Ideas to Finally Get Carmelo Anthony to Houston

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    After six-plus seasons with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony is ready for his ticket out of the Big Apple.

    The 10-time All-Star even has his destination decided. And with all the power afforded to him by his no-trade clause, his opinion on the matter is a big deal.

    He'd waive the clause to join the Houston Rockets, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The list doesn't go beyond that.

    But that's been the case for some time, and he still isn't bound for H-Town. He's effectively stuck in the terminal, waiting for the Knicks and Rockets to find the extra team (or teams) needed to set the trade gears in motion.

    It's harder than it sounds, hence the lengthy delay. But it's not impossible.

    In fact, we've found five such deals that get Anthony to Houston and bring something of value back to New York.

    Get all the latest Carmelo Anthony trade rumors and NBA news on the B/R app.

Luring the Deer into a Three-Team Swap

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Houston Rockets Receive: Carmelo Anthony

    Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Ryan Anderson

    New York Knicks Receive: Mirza Teletovic, Spencer Hawes, Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, 2020 top-five protected pick (from HOU)

    There's no better way to kick off this convoluted process than with a three-team, six-player, one-pick exchange.

    The particulars were arranged by The Ringer's Bill Simmons, who dubbed this deal as the multiteam Melo-to-Houston swap "that makes the most sense." It's tricky to have three-teamers that benefit all parties, but this would either pull it off or come awfully close.

    Houston still wins the deal, both for adding Anthony and shedding Anderson's remaining three years and $61 million. Anthony may not be the ideal fit for Mike D'Antoni's offense—a lesson the Knicks learned years ago—and his arrival would require integrating two ball-dominant players with James Harden, last season's No. 4 player in usage percentage (34.2).

    But those are risks worth taking for the Rockets, who still trail behind the Western Conference superpower out in Golden State. Even with his star beginning to fade, Anthony would be a grossly overqualified and potentially super-efficient third option. Houston would have three offensive fulcrums with versatile defenders around them, a combo that could at least annoy the Warriors.

    Anderson would modernize Milwaukee's attack and give superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo more room to work. The Bucks' 13th-ranked offense has obvious growth potential if it can improve on its 22nd-placed finish in threes (8.8 per game). Anderson would be a big boost there, and considering he'll play meaningful minutes, his deal might not be that much worse than Teletovic's $21 million over the next two seasons.

    If the Knicks sign off on this, they do so for freedom—from Anthony's shadows and the restraints of his burdensome contract. Quarterman and Long don't have guaranteed contracts. Hawes' expires at season's end, and Teletovic won't cost half of what Anthony does the next two seasons.

    Throw in a down-the-road first-rounder from a team that could age quickly, and New York walks away with a few roster-building tools.

Blazers Relent, Facilitate Three-Teamer

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    Houston Rockets Receive: Carmelo Anthony

    New York Knicks Receive: Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Caleb Swanigan

    Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Ryan Anderson, Shawn Long, Cameron Oliver, 2020 top-five protected pick (from HOU)

    Different deal, same story for Houston. Anthony again completes the desired Big Three at the cost of only one rotation player, with the rookie Oliver replacing the sophomore Quarterman in the outgoing package.

    The Knicks, meanwhile, land three potential rotation pieces—none of whom are over the age of 25. Leonard has the lowest stock of the three (thanks in large part to the three years and $31.7 million left on his deal), and he's still a 7-footer with a career 37.1 three-point percentage. New York also gets to see what's next for Swanigan, who has already been an All-American and All-NBA Summer League first-team selection this year.

    Harkless, a Queens native, could be the most intriguing of the Knicks' newcomers. He defends with modern malleability, using a blend of length and quickness to bother scorers of all sizes. He's also coming off a year in which he posted personal bests in points (10.0 per game), triples (68) and field-goal percentage (50.3), numbers that have brought trade rumors close enough to him to (sort of) elicit a reaction.

    "It doesn't do anything for me to get involved with that," Harkless said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. "If it happens, it happens."

    Portland previously declined the opportunity to bring Houston and New York together, preferring to land Anthony itself, according to Wojnarowski. But with Anthony not likely to expand his list of landing spots, the Blazers could see this as a chance to improve.

    They would pick up a career 38.1 percent three-point sniper to maximize the frontcourt spacing. Wider driving lanes and cleaner post-up plays could increase the effectiveness of the Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum-Jusuf Nurkic trio, which already drubbed opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions together last season (would have been second overall).

    Oliver has only a partial guarantee for this upcoming season, but he might be worth keeping around anyway. The undrafted combo forward out of Nevada is a tremendous athlete with the potential to become a versatile two-way contributor.

New York Finds an All-Star

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Houston Rockets: Carmelo Anthony

    New York Knicks Receive: Andre Drummond, Isaiah Hartenstein, Shawn Long, Tim Quarterman

    Detroit Pistons Receive: Ryan Anderson, Kyle O'Quinn, Isaiah Taylor, 2018 second-round pick (from CHA, MEM or MIA, via HOU)

    Another winner for the Rockets.

    Sure, the back of the bench is thinned out and the financial books aren't as flexible, but the only significant on-court impact for 2017-18 is upgrading from Anderson to Anthony. That not only gives Houston a much more self-sufficient scorer, but according to last season, it doesn't diminish its catch-and-shoot attack (Anderson made 42.7 percent of his catch-and-fire triples; Anthony hit 42.6).

    The Pistons play the role of middleman, "likely to go along with the deal but neither loving nor hating the return," wrote Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal, the architect of this arrangement. On one hand, Detroit trades away the player who best combines youth and talent in Drummond. On the other, it avoids owing $105 million over the next four seasons to a center who neither spreads the floor nor anchors an elite defense.

    It also reunites Anderson with his former head coach Stan Van Gundy, a pairing that transformed the sharpshooter from afterthought to asset with the Orlando Magic. The Pistons have considered reuniting the two before. O'Quinn has opened eyes as an instant-impact reserve and could be viewed as a serviceable stand-in for Drummond, who always seems within arm's reach of the trade rumor mill.

    The Knicks leave the deal without a draft pick and with the trade's longest, richest contract. That's the basic description of the disaster ending to the 'Melodrama. But that's not the case here, as the 'Bockers snag a 24-year-old building block in a deal that costs them only a 33-year-old who wants to leave and a 27-year-old solid-but-unspectacular reserve.

    Adding Drummond would shoehorn Kristaps Porzingis into the power forward position, which isn't ideal. But the combined length and athleticism of this twosome would be absurd, sending its defensive potential through the roof. Drummond's best days are ahead of him, and he has an All-Star selection behind him.

    It's tough to find another Anthony deal that yields a prize like that.

Four-Team Frenzy No. 1

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Houston Rockets Receive: Carmelo Anthony

    New York Knicks Receive: Terrence Ross, Mario Hezonja, Tim Quarterman, Shawn Long, 2018 second-round pick (from CHA, MEM or MIA, via HOU)

    Orlando Magic Receive: Omer Asik, Solomon Hill, 2020 top-five protected pick (from HOU)

    New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Ryan Anderson, D.J. Augustin

    Put four teams into a single transaction, and things just might get silly. That's what happened here, as the Knicks fail to find a first-round pick, a surefire centerpiece or an intriguing rookie.

    But Ross and Hezonja were both top-10 selections in their respective drafts, and each intrigues for a different reason. While Ross' numbers may always fluctuate, he can be relied upon for floor spacing and above-the-rim finishing. Hezonja has yet to justify being the No. 5 pick in 2015, but he's a 22-year-old with loads of athleticism and shooting range.

    The Rockets once again pry Anthony loose using only Anderson, non-guaranteed contracts and draft considerations. Space City is on board.

    It's a tougher sell to Orlando, which gives up youth and gains Asik's awful deal. Barring further activity, the Magic would have more than $39 million tied up next season in an Asik, Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo center rotation. That's brutal.

    But draft picks remain the Magic's best roster-builder, and they add one for letting Asik's money rot on the books. They also pick up one of head coach Frank Vogel's former pupils in Hill, who has the size and dexterity to fit Orlando's evolving, positionless defense.

    Speaking of reunions, Anderson winds up back in the Big Easy, a city he departed just last summer. The Pelicans have reportedly wanted in on the Anthony multiteam talks, a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post. While that doesn't mean the Pellies are eyeing Anderson, his stroke would fit snugly alongside both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins as New Orleans' third big.

    The Pelicans also might be one of the few teams that doesn't balk at Anderson's price tag. Because while he's getting his $61 million over the next three seasons, Hill and Asik will collect $72.1 million.

Four-Team Frenzy No. 2

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Houston Rockets Receive: Carmelo Anthony

    Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Long, Isaiah Taylor

    New York Knicks Receive: Greg Monroe, Mirza Teletovic, 2020 first-round pick (top-one protected, from HOU), 2018 second-round pick (from TOR, via PHO), 2018 second-round pick (from CHA, MEM or MIA, via HOU)

    Phoenix Suns Receive: John Henson, Tim Quarterman

    This mouthful—masterfully compiled by Bleacher Report's Dan Favale—is simpler than it appears.

    Anthony, again, finds his buddies in Houston without affecting the depth chart beyond tagging in for Anderson. The Rockets can live without the picks, since they're pushing all their chips to the center of the table. And the reason they have accumulated these non-guaranteed deals is to facilitate a transaction like this.

    The Bucks help themselves today and tomorrow through on-court upgrades and financial relief. Their offense needed shooting, and their 19th-ranked defense needed a more intimidating force at the rim. Anderson helps the former, while Chandler addresses the latter in two ways—through his own play and the wisdom he's able to share with intriguing 20-year-old Thon Maker.

    This amounts to a "meh" haul for New York, but nothing about this process has indicated the Knicks will do well for themselves.

    All things considered, they make it OK here. Monroe is more than serviceable (at least 18 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes the last three seasons), and he's on an expiring contract. The Knicks come away with a future first, and they'd have three seconds in 2018, perhaps giving them the ammunition needed to climb the draft board.

    While Phoenix finds neither draft chips nor salary savings, the deal furthers its youth movement.

    "Selling the Suns on Henson isn't an implausible task," Favale wrote. "He's more than eight years Chandler's junior and only under contract for an extra year. With the latter two seasons of Alan Williams' deal non-guaranteed and Alex Len growing stale on the free-agent market, the Suns have room for a shot-blocking, rim-running dice roll."


    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from Basketball Reference or NBA.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.


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