Despite swirling summer trade rumors, as of September 9th, 2017, Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the New York Knicks. The Houston Rockets have expressed interest in him; the Portland Trail Blazers reportedly have as well. ESPN NBA journalists Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe sat down during the latest version of The Woj Pod to discuss Anthony’s future and his potential fit with the Blazers in particular. While they deem any move unlikely, they spent several minutes going over Carmelo’s fit alongside Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic.
The Blazers-related segment begins at the 28:51 mark of the podcast. A transcript of that discussion follows.
Woj: This is a great September conversation, because, right, free agency's done. Everyone's waiting for camp to start. Carmelo is unlikely to be moved.
Lowe: We should talk about Carmelo. We can talk about Carmelo.
Woj: Let's talk about Carmelo. Houston right now just does not have a pathway to do a direct deal with New York based on what New York wants. Melo has not really waived the no-trade, he's not really open... maybe that happens. I think New York is hoping he opens this up. Portland would love for Melo to open this up.
Lowe: I think Portland... I mean you, you've been on the nose about Portland ahead of everybody but I think Portland wants Melo like way... like even more than people... like Portland, really really wants to get Melo.
Woj: It fits, I mean it really fits for them. I mean it really fits, obviously McCollum and Lillard and Nurkic who... I saw a photo of him the other day and I was talking to some Portland folks like, "he looks great. like lost weight." That's what they wanted him... get in shape. He's playing for... it's a contract year for him. Perfect. And you saw how good he was. They were tremendous with him after that trade. And you plug Melo into that team. And again, a team... that's the blueprint, right? They go out and draft two all-star level guards at, let's see, 6 and 10, right? 6 and 10 from Weber State and Lehigh. Neil Olshey picks those guards. The Nurkic deal, which, last year, it was funny... How many actual... this is a separate thing but... think of how few actual basketball trades there are anymore. Where somebody is trading a comparable player at a comparable position because we think our guy fits better with us than... It's like how trades used to be. There are almost no trades anymore. Every trade is built off somebody's lost leverage. They have to either.. they are either getting money off or somebody's taking on an asset for you know like the Chicago - New Orelans deal the other day for Pondexter, right?. They got paid cash, a decent 2nd round pick... because New Oreleans is creating space. That Nurkic - Plumlee deal was like, it was like a basketball trade. Like Denver had reasons to make the move and they thought maybe Plumlee could fit better with Jokic. And Nurkic and Mike Malone weren't great. Anyway, that deal, like, there aren't many of them, that was one of them. But Portland, you slide Carmelo in there... and again, free agency, guys aren't dying to go to Portland, Oregon. They're just not. And like a lot of other markets, but.... Carmelo for them puts them (garbled) it depends who would they give up. Like, they have some picks they could give. They'd be a really good team with him.
Lowe: They could also be the 5th seed.
Woj: But that's a pretty big jump. I mean, that's a pretty good team.
Lowe: It's where there were two years ago.
Lowe: I just, I mean... like Jeff Van Gundy said this, I was hoping to save it for our annual pre-season podcast. But like none of this matters.
Woj: (laughter) I know none of this matters. I know.
Lowe: The Warriors are just going to destroy everybody and that's it. But Portland, uh... So here's an interesting... I've been dying to ask you about this. So Melo signed his contract in the Summer of 2014 I think the year that LeBron moved. And it has an early termination option for 2018-19. Is it an early termination?
Woj: Mm hmm.
Lowe: For $27.928 million dollars. Looking at it now. When he signed that deal, and then the following year after that, when everybody understood the cap spike that was going to happen and how high the cap would go. There was this sort of like all of these players are going to turn down their options, they're going to re-enter free agency you know as soon as possible. Cash in another big deal. The cap's going to keep going up. The teams are going to, like... If you trade for Carmelo Anthony you have to... I don't know where his head's at but like... Carmelo Anthony probably should not opt out of $27.9 million dollars. Right? I mean like unless he gets... a buyout is a totally different scenario. But if a team like Portland or the Lakers or whoever trades for Carmelo Anthony like you kind of have to assume he's on our books for $28 million dollars for another year, right? I mean I would think so.
Woj: And that's why there are so few teams really interested at the number. Now on a buyout everybody like...
Woj: Everybody's interested in a buyout. There's not many teams in the league who... But you're right, does he opt out of that contract? I, I don't know how he get's it back.
Lowe: That's a lot of money.
Woj: It's like Dwyane Wade, Dwyane was similar. If Dwyane was not opting out of that money and he may get the buyout eventually but for him to not opt out of that $23 million?
Lowe: Do you think there is any chance that Carmelo doesn't report for training camp if he is still with the Knicks?
Woj: A few people have brought that up.
Lowe: That's why I asked.
Woj: I, I guess there's always a chance. But I would say that the idea of Melo taking a fine every day. And it's going to cost you money if you do that. I would think he's less apt to do that than other guys would. But, if he were to open up his no-trade to more teams and they still couldn't find a deal, I think then you can say, "Ok, like you guys haven't done your part". But when your no-trade is really with one team, Houston for the most part. It's harder.