The biggest news this week has been the New York Knicks’ desire to move Carmelo Anthony. Rumors have been floating about a potential Anthony trade for a few weeks, but the nine-time All Star has a no trade clause in his contract. There have been some reports that he would only waive that clause for a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers or Los Angeles Clippers, but Anthony has also expressed a desire to stay in New York. This week, however, the Knicks made their intention to trade the former scoring leader more explicit.
On Thursday Chris Haynes and Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Knicks had reached out to the Cleveland Cavaliers in hopes of making an Anthony-for-Kevin Love trade. According to that report, the Cavaliers were not willing to part ways with Love because of the role he played in helping them win the championship in June.
Later on Thursday, Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported that in addition to the Cavs, the Knicks were reaching out to the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers to see if they had any interest in acquiring Anthony.
Knicks president Phil Jackson is determined to find a destination and deal that Anthony would agree to accept before the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline, league sources said.
Jackson is determined to rid the roster of Anthony and his contract, and start rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis, league sources said.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News then reported that the Knicks and Clippers were discussing a trade for Carmelo that did not involve Chris Paul, Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan going to New York. The Knicks could not trade for Griffin because of a rule in the collective bargaining agreement that states that a team cannot have two Designated Rookie Max extensions on its roster acquired via a trade at any time. Both Griffin and Derrick Rose would fall under that category.
According to the New York Daily News report, a trade with the Clippers would likely include one or two players from the group of Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick or Austin Rivers. Austin Rivers is the son of Clippers President of Basketball Operations and head coach Doc Rivers. The elder Rivers told ESPN that he would be willing to trade his son:
Listen, I would trade anyone. You have to be willing to do that … and he would be one of them. And any of them would be one. But I don’t want to trade any of our guys. I like our team.
Rivers added that his job “is to look at this team and see if we can get better. And if we can, we’ll do it.”
On Saturday, Romana Shelburne and Stein of ESPN reported that the Knicks and Clippers were trying to find a third team to help facilitate a trade:
Sources told ESPN that the Knicks continue to discuss the prospect of sending Anthony to Los Angeles without taking any of the Clippers’ top three stars but have struggled to find a trade construction that works for both teams involving the other players on L.A.’s roster.
The Clippers are hard capped, making it difficult for them to handle a 15 percent trade kicker in Anthony’s contract. It would add nearly $10 million to his cap hit this season if he was dealt. A potential third team could help the Clippers offload contracts that the Knicks are not willing to take on. Anthony’s contract will have two year and about $54 million remaining after this season.
It remains to be seen if the Knicks can find the right trade partner and convince Carmelo to waive his no trade clause. The 32-year-old may be a little past his prime, but he is still averaging 22.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season and was the second leading scorer for last summer’s gold medal winning Olympic team. He would likely help the Clippers, especially if they didn’t have to give up one of their big three to get him.
In non-Anthony news, the Chicago Bulls are reportedly shopping Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported last Sunday that the Bulls have been looking to move either player “in hopes of bolstering the roster and making a second-half run in the wide-open Eastern Conference” according to multiple sources. However, Cowley added that neither player is generating the kind of return Chicago general manager Gar Forman is looking for.
While the Cavaliers may not be interesting a Love-Anthony swap, they are still looking for point guard depth. On Tuesday Mitch Lawrence reported on Forbes.com that the Cavs have been looking specifically at the Denver Nuggets’ Jameer Nelson, Rondo or Deron Williams of the Dallas Mavericks.
Any of the three could help the Cavs. Nelson now is serving as Emmanuel Mudiay’s mentor, but could be dealt for the right price. Rondo, every coach's nightmare, is on the outs in Chicago and in a backup role since being demoted from his starting spot. Williams could be a buyout candidate for the 15-29 Mavs since this looks like a lottery season for Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki.
On Saturday ESPN’s Stein added Utah Jazz guard Shelvin Mack to the list. The six-year player would fit into the trade exception the Cavs got from their Anderson Varejao trade, and “according to sources, is most definitely available.” That particular trade exception expires February 20, three days before the trade deadline.
In that same article Stein reported that the Orlando Magic continue to look to improve their team through a trade. He specified that the Magic are looking to acquire a proven wing scorer according to league sources. The expectation is that center Nikola Vucevic is the most likely player to be involved in a potential deal.
With less than a month to go before the trade deadline, the rumors are sure to heat up. Check back next week for the latest.