ESPN's Chris Broussard reported late Friday night that the Knicks and Clippers have had internal discussions about trading Carmelo Anthony for Blake Griffin, according to sources. The teams, according to Broussard, have not yet had external discussions about a deal.
Even though New York and Los Angeles haven't started trading proposals here, there are plenty of aspects worth discussing.
Below, we unpack some of the issues surrounding a Melo-for-Blake swap:
1. Melo may leave? Before we get into any of the X's and O's of a potential trade, let's talk about the biggest takeaway here: The Knicks are apparently confronting the reality that Anthony may leave this summer.
We already know Anthony plans to test free agency. We also know the Knicks will have a significant financial advantage in the Melo sweepstakes.
With the Knicks, Anthony could ink a a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is $95,897,372 over four years, according to calculations by ESPN salary-cap expert Larry Coon. Those numbers are based on the assumption Anthony, one of the top scorers in the NBA, will sign a max contract.
Of course, if Anthony is traded midseason to the Clippers, Donald Sterling's club could offer him the five-year, $130 million max contract because it would have his Bird rights.
For what it's worth, the Knicks have publicly expressed confidence they can re-sign Anthony.
While we're not into parsing someone's words too closely, Melo has been all over the map when talking about his future plans. Prior to the season, he said he'd like to be courted. Then, in November, Anthony stated he'd like to retire as a Knick. Since then, he's been hesitant to discuss anything about his pending free agency other than to say he'll think about his next move when the time comes.
So make of that what you will. Either way, the idea that the Knicks are at least discussing a potential trade of Anthony suggests they are less than 100 percent certain he'll re-sign.
2. Why the Clippers? As Broussard notes, Anthony will likely have to give the Knicks his blessing if the organization decides to trade him.
Why? Because no team will offer New York anything of value if they don't have assurances Anthony will sign with them as a free agent.
That brings us to the Clippers. Anthony and Paul have long expressed a desire to play with one another. This dates back to Anthony's wedding in 2010 when Paul suggested in a toast that he'd come to New York to form a "Big Three" with Paul, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
According to sources, Anthony and Paul's desire to play with one another has never waned.
It also should be noted that Anthony has a home in Los Angeles and his wife, LaLa, reportedly spends a significant amount of time in Los Angeles due to her professional pursuits.
So in that sense, if you're thinking about teams/locations likely to draw Anthony's interest, it's not a stretch to call the Clippers the leader in the clubhouse. Still, plenty of things have to fall into place for this deal to make sense for either side.
3. Why would the Clippers do this? Or the Knicks? If the Clippers acquired Anthony in a trade, they'd still presumably have to pony up $130 million over the next five seasons to retain him. As discussed above, the Clippers would have Anthony's Bird Rights if they traded for him. So they'd be able to exceed the salary cap to sign him.
But they would also have to pay a significant luxury tax bill to keep him around. Is Sterling willing to stomach the tax hit to ink Anthony to a max deal?
What about Griffin and the Knicks? If New York lands Griffin, it would give them a player under contract for the next 3½ seasons (Griffin has an early-termination option in his contract for the 2017-18 season).
In the final year of his contract, Griffin is scheduled to make $21.3 million. The Knicks are paying Anthony $21.3 million this season. So a deal for Griffin could conceivably open up future cap space for the Knicks.
It's worth noting that a trade involving Griffin and Anthony would need to include other players to work financially. It's also worth noting that Griffin is just 24 years old. Pundits suggest Griffin has significant flaws in his game (namely, defense and rebounding) but he's young enough to improve in those areas. And he's not a bad player to build around if the Knicks, as expected, become major players in the 2015 free-agent market.
Anthony is 29 and in his 10th season in the NBA. If the Knicks signed him to a max deal, he'd be in his 15th season in the final year of the contract and 35 years old. There would be a lot of mileage on Anthony's tires by the end of that deal.
Another X factor here is Knicks owner James Dolan. Dolan, you may remember, moved heaven and earth to acquire Anthony prior to the 2011 trade deadline. So it's hard to see him moving Anthony in-season and admitting the Knicks' Anthony experiment was a failure. All indications are that the Knicks' No. 1 goal this summer is to retain Anthony.
But if Anthony gives you an indication he may leave, you have to at least discuss your options if you're Dolan. Losing him for nothing would be a colossal mistake, one the Knicks already made with Jeremy Lin. Love Lin or hate him, it's hard to argue that the Knicks' decision to let him walk for nothing wasn't simply bad business.
The Knicks would be foolish to make the same error with Anthony. And in the pantheon of players/assets you could receive in a trade for Anthony, Blake Griffin ain't that bad.
Question: Would you move Melo for Blake? Why or why not?
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