A couple of days ago we posted a link to Ian O'Connor's hypothetical piece speculating whether the Blazers would ever take on the contract (and play) of New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire. I'm assuming that nobody within the sound of my voice is crazy enough to think that's a good idea. (Looking around with eyebrow raised.) No? Good. But the question brings up a more interesting possibility: would the Blazers consider taking on Carmelo Anthony?
Despite 'Melo's 41-point performance in what's likely to be the Knicks' only playoff victory of the year it's got to be dawning on the New York faithful and management alike that this team has really screwed itself over. (Some of us were saying that the minute they paired Anthony and Stoudemire, but we'll let that go.) Between the two not-so-super heroes and center Tyson Chandler the Knicks have capped themselves out until 2015...with three contracts. You can do that, but the last names on those signature lines better include a "James" who's not Jerome. 'Melo ain't that. From Portland's perspective, however, he would be the only potentially-available superstar who could make good on management's apparent desire to radically alter the course of the team in just one summer. His defense is putrid but he's maybe the best all-around offensive player in the game in terms of sheer ability to score. You will not find a guy with more raw talent south of pipe-dream acquisition land. While this isn't my dream trade--in fact I've always hated the guy--the deal makes some sense both ways.
Here's the bad news from Portland's perspective...the move would be expensive in every way imaginable. If New York were willing to make such a deal (an open question) the package would have to look something like:
- A re-signed Nicolas Batum
- Both first-round draft picks this year (assuming the Blazers got two...if they just get #11 forget it, no deal)
- Shawne Williams to make salaries match
Shawne Williams has a one-year salary approximating $3 million next season. The signed draft choices would combine for roughly $4 million, making $7 million total invested in three players. Batum would need to be signed for approximately $9.5 million per year in order to make the salaries work in this four-for-one deal.
The Knicks would get a young small forward plus two lottery picks plus an immediate savings of $4 million per year, reaching $7 million per year when Williams' salary comes off the books. That may not seem significant, but if they play their cards right that could actually put them under the cap by 2013 instead of having to wait until 2015. In essence they're spreading 'Melo's salary among three young players, doing a mini-rebuild, and hoping that flexibility turns into more later.
The Blazers, on the other hand, sacrifice their own flexibility for a couple years, taking on Carmelo's salary of $20.5 million in 2012-13, rising to $22.4 million and $24.4 million in successive seasons. We told you this would be expensive.
The good news for Portland is that, since Nicolas Batum is the linchpin here and since the Blazers would be re-signing him themselves to make this deal work, they could spend the rest of their available cap space this summer before consummating the trade, meaning Anthony isn't the only player they could pick up. The Blazers could look at other point guards or centers before taking on 'Melo at the end. But you'd better make sure you hit with the signing or signings you make before the Anthony deal, because you're not shuffling players easily after taking on his enormous salary.
So, given the possibilities, is this something you'd even consider, provided New York would? Weigh in below.