Carmelo Anthony
(AP Photo)

Now that Phil Jackson has fired Derek Fisher as New York Knicks Head Coach, it’s time for him to make one more move. Carmelo Anthony must be traded from the New York Knicks.

It’s the most unpleasant idea on Knicks fans’ minds since Isaiah Thomas as Knicks General Manager, but the Knicks have an opportunity to put together a team for next season that can fully compete for a playoff spot. As the All-Star break continues, many teams will be looking to add or subtract talent that will set their teams up for playoff runs, or title runs, or a chance to rebuild in free agency. Anthony will most likely want to play for a well-developed championship contender. The Knicks won’t be able to just send Anthony anywhere as the player’s contract is an unfavorable one to the team and to those who potentially want to make a move for the star forward.

Carmelo Anthony signed a 5 year deal a little over $124 million dollars. All of the money is fully guaranteed, and his cap value for the current season is $22,875,000. He has a player option for the 2018-2019 regular season, a no trade clause, and a 15% trade kicker that ups his total of guaranteed money allotted to him. If the Knicks were to make a trade now, the total value must be equal in the player(s) they get back. If it isn’t going to be equal, either team must make an agreement to pay a certain portion of the contract for the remainder of the deal, or until Anthony opts out instead of accepting the player option.

Anthony is averaging 21.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game. With a performance rating of 20.4 on the PER scale, the key for Knicks is to either look for a player that is doing near equivalent to these numbers at a lower contract value, or attain a variety of players that can recreate Anthony’s statistics that also equal his contract value or at lesser. To find this is extremely difficult but not impossible.

(USA TODAY Sports)

From a team perspective, trading Anthony for multiple pieces is the key. Adding a point guard, a forward to replace Anthony’s position, and whatever extra position depth is sent back to the Knicks is the key for a successful trade, in theory. If the Knicks desire to keep Anthony, the upcoming offseason will have to focus on bringing in an elite point guard and bringing in strong depth to as many positions as possible. With an estimated $15 – $20 million in cap space for free agency, the Knicks have room to bring in strong talent. However, trading Anthony opens up more opportunities assuming the Knicks don’t have a full obligation to the contract value. Diminishing that amount is crucial to success going forward. The biggest con in this trade proposal is that Carmelo Anthony is the face of the New York Knicks franchise. The fan reaction could be devastatingly negative if such a move is made and no progress comes from it. It could force Phil Jackson out as President, Steve Mills as General Manger, even James Dolan as the owner. The coaching staff under interim Head Coach Kurt Rambis. The key for the Knicks front office is to acquire the right players that can make New York an attractive location for a big time player.

From a player perspective, Anthony’s no trade clause is his shield to any trade from the team. He will be very resistant to leaving because of the impact he has in calling an NBA city his own. The Brooklyn Nets don’t have any star power on the team anymore, so to leave such a throne is unthinkable as a superstar NBA player. His family is fully settled there as well so that will deter any idea for a trade. The only allure is to go to a team that is a contender, and even with that prospect Anthony may be unwilling to take a back seat to an already star-studded cast of players where he will have to fit in. The team, the system of play, and the fans will all be new to Anthony and he may be unwilling to try all over again. He has stayed in New York under the assumption Phil Jackson and Co. will bring him a team capable of winning an NBA title. Until that idea is no longer possible, it will be extremely difficult to trade Anthony.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

 

A final obstacle for the Knicks is one team in particular. The Golden State Warriors. As the clear favorite in the West to not only win the conference, but the NBA title. And break the record for wins in a regular season previously held by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, the Warriors are the focus of any contender looking for talent. In the East only the Cleveland Cavaliers are favored to challenge Golden State, with the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the conference going along as slightly potential favorites to challenge for a title run. In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are the top teams to challenge Golden State and make a title run. They are both at 2nd and 3rd respectively. The Los Angeles Clippers are 4th with little chance to make a run, and a Carmelo Anthony trade could help them generously. The Knicks would be hesitant to send Anthony to the top Eastern Conference teams because of the current and future obstacles they would pose.

In the end, it’s very unlikely a trade will be made but as the numbers show and the potential interest in expanding a team’s roster talent to compete in a relatively weak Eastern Conference, the Knicks would be crazy to at least not listen to offers for their superstar.

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