Carmelo Math or Knicks Math?

“I believe that you should put the right people around you, people that will not let anything go wrong.” Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo wants to go to the Houston Rockets. He wants to be the third option to Chris Paul and James Harden; he yearns to be Chris Bosh. Give Melo some credit for self-awareness and understanding what type of player he is in this phase of his career. Gone are his days of leading a team with his exceptional talent. He has slowed way down. Last year, he posted a twelve year low in rebounding, a four year low in assists, a career low in defensive rating. It was the first time in eight years Anthony’s PER was under 20.0.  His Real Plus-Minus rank was 29. In 2015-16 it was 7.

Melo’s family has mentally transitioned from New York to Houston. They have accepted the handwriting on the wall. One problem though. The Knicks are asking for a lot.  According to Adrian Wojnarowki they want a scoring wing, draft picks and contracts that won’t suffocate them.

Good  luck with that in September. The Rockets have draft picks but not much young talent the Knicks are looking for. No one wants one dimensional Ryan Anderson. But this Knicks math may be a big bluff to get Carmelo to open up other teams. If it was a bluff, it worked.

Carmelo has added the Cavs to his list meaning Kevin Love coming to Gotham. But the Cavs don’t have young talent. Their draft picks are bottom of the first round. Did the Knicks corner Carmelo just to get Kevin Love?

Knicks training camp begins on Monday. The Knicks barely whisper Melo’s name as if he is already traded but he’s not traded so how do you not talk about the elephant in the room?

As for Melo. He is more than ready to turn the page whereas New York is in the rear view mirror. That is the good news for the Knicks rebuild. But the bad news is do they know what they are doing? Is this going to take them to a desperate place where they bring in garbage just to get this deal done?

Carmelo being Carmelo isn’t making things easy. He is picky about where he wants it to go.  I get it. He wants to win a title. He has paid his NBA dues. But the Knicks don’t care about what Carmelo wants. He is a chess piece, a pawn to move. With a neophyte GM, what the Knicks do sets the tone for what this new regime will be. History hasn’t been kind.

The Knicks are historically incompetent at trades. Antonio McDyess. Stevie Francis. The disaster that was Eddy Curry.  Andreas Bargnani.  I don’t trust the Knicks to do anything good in the getting assets side of the deal by trading Anthony.  The draft picks and a young talent they covet, someone to blend in with Kristaps Porzingis, is a near impossible get with training camp starting next week. They may be a day late and a dollar short.

Carmelo is thinking of Puerto Rico and is asking for donations for hurricane relief. He is thinking about his season too but the idea of Anthony in Knicks training camp is more realistic than first thought when it looked like a deal was about to be consummated. But three team deals are always fraught with anxiety and nerves. Someone always wants to pull out, fearful that their fans will revolt. Besides, who out there wants Ryan Anderson and are willing to let go of talent to get him?

For Carmelo, who has never been a strong-willed definitive personality in the first place, wanting out is different than desperate to get out. Has Carmelo graduated to desperation where he will stage a mutiny putting the Knicks behind the eight ball?

If only the Knicks would agree to a buyout. But. Don’t even go there. Giving Melo cash and letting him walk to a title is not the James Dolan way of doing things. Besides, it is bad business. Melo gets everything, the Knicks get nothing.  That is not how NBA Econ 101 is done. Better talents than Carmelo have been traded and the teams that did the trading got something in return to make it all seem worthwhile but those players didn’t have a no-trade clause.  The Knicks want their cake and want to eat it too, as if they’re still privileged, still residing in the penthouse. As if losing Melo isn’t really losing (it is). Melo gone means winning way down the road. Trading superstars is a gloomy business, haven’t you heard.

Where this goes from here is anyone’s guess. No one knows. It looks more and more like Melo is in New York for the short term.  The place he really, really loves looks like a distant possibility and Melo could find himself in Cleveland with friend LeBron James while the Knicks take Kevin Love and draft picks.

Kevin Love isn’t a superstar. He isn’t Melo in his prime. But Love is good enough. He has two years left on his deal then a player option. When he isn’t around LeBron he is a 20-10 player. Love isn’t everything but he solves this drama, ends the bleeding, turns the Melo page and starts the Knicks on planting a flag on their future.

But somehow I see Melo still a Knick, still being the loyal though unhappy soldier.

 

photo via llananba