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Another day, another Carmelo Anthony trade rumor. This one, however, is different. Reports surfaced early on Thursday that the Knicks had reached out to both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers about a possible trade involving Carmelo Anthony. That’s not the part that doesn’t make sense though. It’s no secret that Carmelo would be willing to waive his no-trade clause. He’s been very open about that possibility while maintaining that he would prefer to stay with the Knicks. If he does waive his no-trade clause though, he would prefer to be on a team that can compete for championships. With that being the case, both the Clippers and Celtics make sense as possible landing spots for the All-Star forward. That’s not the issue. The issue is what the Knicks are willing to take back in return for him. And I say “willing to take back” because at this point, that’s seemingly what it’s turning into.
A little over two years ago now, Phil Jackson cleaned house and began the process of a, pardon my language, half-assed rebuilding process. He did so by sending J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the surface, it didn’t seem like a crazy idea. Smith was having a poor season and the Knicks were losing which wasn’t helping and Shumpert was not developing into the player that the Knicks had hoped for when they drafted him. Then you start to look a little deeper and see what the Knicks got in return. The Knicks received Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk, and Lance Thomas in the deal along with a 2019 2nd round pick. Lou Amundson was waived and then re-signed by the Knicks that season but currently does not play in the NBA. Alex Kirk was also waived by the Knicks that year never to be heard from again. Lance Thomas still plays for the Knicks and is a serviceable rotation player. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith went on to play pivotal roles on the Cavaliers championship team last season while both securing eight figure salaries in contract extensions with Cleveland. Safe to say the deal worked out for those two guys. So let’s recap, the Knicks traded away two above average NBA players, both of whom could start on most teams in the NBA, for two guys who are no longer playing in the league and one player who plays 17 minutes per game on a 20-27 New York Knicks squad this year. As if one trade of quality talent for next to nothing wasn’t enough, it looks like Phil Jackson is ready to do it again. Except this time, the player he’s shipping out of town is Carmelo Anthony.
The New York Daily News is reporting that after talks with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Knicks front office made it known that they don’t necessarily need to receive one of the Clippers top guns in return for Anthony. Let me say that again, Phil Jackson told the Clippers he doesn’t need good players in return for Anthony. It’s one thing to trade away two struggling guards to accelerate a rebuild. It’s something TOTALLY different to trade away a 9-time All-Star for players with average to slightly above average talent. The Clippers don’t have any draft picks to offer the Knicks and even if they did, they wouldn’t be good ones. They would be late 1st round picks at best. The NBA demands teams to match player salaries in order to complete trades. If the Knicks aren’t asking for one of the Clippers top players like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan or Chris Paul, that means to make the salaries work, the Knicks would have to somehow get a few players in return who’s annual salaries total about $24 million. That leaves you really with three players on the Clippers roster, JJ Reddick, Jamaal Crawford and Austin Rivers. Two of those three players would have to be sent back to the Knicks in order for the trade to work out financially. Here’s the problem with that, two of those three players DON’T EVEN START! That means Phil Jackson is willing to trade away the Knicks star player for a couple of bench players and maybe an expiring contract. If this doesn’t confirm the fact that Phil Jackson has NO CLUE what he is doing as an NBA executive then I don’t know what does.
The lesson here is simple, you do not give away talent in the NBA for nothing. Especially when that talent could put a contending team over the top in their pursuit of an NBA Championship. It’s not just the player that holds value, it’s what that player means to the other team. For the Clippers, ‘Melo might be the missing piece to get them over the hump and finally help them make a deep run in the playoffs. THAT is valuable. You can not give that away for peanuts. The fact that Phil Jackson would even entertain the idea of trading Carmelo for anything other than young players, draft picks, or another star, is absolutely mind boggling. At this point, I hope ‘Melo does get traded. I also hope ‘Melo wins wherever he goes. He does not deserve this kind of negativity and disrespect. Carmelo has been nothing if not professional throughout his entire tenure with the Knicks. His play is maddening at times but that doesn’t mean he’s not an extremely talented player. The best thing for him would be to get the hell out of New York quick, fast, and in a hurry.
To say the Knicks are a mess right now would be like calling the sun warm. It’s a bit of an understatement to say the least. I’m not sure if ‘Melo will be traded before the February 23rd trade deadline or not but I do know this, the Knicks had better not trade him for nothing or Phil Jackson better be the next one packing his bags and leaving New York.
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