Today Carmelo Anthony celebrates his 30th birthday. It’s a significant milestone for any man, but it’s one that comes at a price when you play in the NBA. Anthony has reached the unofficial downturn of his career.
Despite this, the New York Knicks have made clear their intentions to re-sign their leading scorer this offseason. If the Knicks want to offer a max-level contract to a one-dimensional gunner who will be halfway to 40 by the end of the deal, that’s their choice. But Phil Jackson and the front office better have a plan B in case Melo decides that New York isn’t the right place for him.
If the Knicks have any indication that Anthony might walk away, they should be proactive and start making calls to execute a sign-and-trade. New York lacks players of true value, and exchanging a blue-chip player for several pieces would be one step towards fixing that problem. Even if they can only get 50 cents on the dollar, that’s better than letting Anthony leave and getting nothing in return.
This is also the scenario that makes Melo the happiest; he makes his extra money AND gets to play on a team that will be competitive next year. So, since it is his birthday, I’ll give him a present: A trade proposal that will make every party involved happy.
Anthony goes to the Houston Rockets along with Raymond Felton, and in return New York receives a package of Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and whatever other salary cap flotsam and draft picks are needed to make it work.
The Rockets get their third star player to make their very own “Big Three” (although for my money they’ll come across more like the Three Stooges). Anthony also gets exactly what he wants. For the first time, he will be on a team truly expected to contend, and he can fit right into Houston’s system as a small ball power forward.
The Knicks get a credible wing player in Parsons (it will be nice to have one, just one), two expiring contracts to build up cap space for 2015 and an upgrade at point guard. Although to be fair, a plank of wood would be an upgrade at point guard for them.
Fans neutral to either team would also get a kick out of this trade. Houston would instantly become one of the most strangely compelling teams to watch. Anthony, James Harden and Dwight Howard are three of the most polarizing players in the league. Watching them meander around the court would be simultaneously incredible and hilarious. Not to mention, Felton in Houston would be the best food-related storyline since Andy Reid became head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
And back at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks would at least be intriguing with Lin’s return. In a season that’s shaping up to be a lost cause for New York, running back Linsanity for a full season might be the best way to keep fans watching.
Of course, this could all be for naught. Anthony could opt to stay in New York or take less money to sign with a team outright. But if he wants both a winning team and extra dough, this is the best option. We’ll see if his wish comes true after he blows out his birthday candles.