Long gone are the days of young, promising players being available. Now more than ever it appears the Knicks will take whatever they can get. Or will they?
Again, with seemingly endless rumors about Melo to Houston, it has been reported that the holdup has been the Knicks. With Anthony apparently willing to waive his no-trade clause, the Knicks finally found a taker. Now they need to square away a return.
If the Rockets are going to be Anthony’s landing spot, a two-team trade won’t provide the Knicks with much. Considering Daryl Morey unloaded a handful of young players, affordable contracts and future draft picks to acquire Chris Paul, what do they have left to send back to New York?
Although he fits in well in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, Ryan Anderson’s nearly $20 million annual salary fits this equation. Anthony would play big minutes for the Rockets at the 4, and if Morey has championship aspirations, Anderson is the most movable of the core players from last season’s team.
At the same time, is Anderson’s contract for the next three years plus a couple of unproven younger players what the Knicks held out this long for? If anything, absorbing Anderson’s contract hurts the Knicks rebuild more than keeping Anthony. This would be trading Anthony just to trade him. That’s less than ideal.
The Knicks aren’t going to get back a haul like they gave up when they traded for Anthony. He’s aging, has had several injuries, and the Knicks have destroyed any leverage they could possibly have had. Their desperation to trade Anthony along with his no-trade clause have made them beggars not choosers.
It doesn’t help that the organization has continually passed on opportunities to move him, thinking a better opportunity awaits.
With the Rockets seemingly hotter for Anthony than any team we’ve seen, now’s the time to punch in a trade.
So if Anderson is the big piece coming from Houston, what are some other possibilities in terms of additional trade partners? Knowing the Knicks still need a point guard, including the Detroit Pistons and reuniting Anderson with former coach Stan Van Gundy has potential.
The biggest problem here is the Rockets won’t want to part with Trevor Ariza. As a defensive standout, Ariza probably has more value to the Rockets than Anthony. Other than that, the Pistons would probably be thrilled to unload Reggie Jackson’s contract, which the Knicks can easily absorb.
It’s unfair to assume Detroit would trade second-year player Henry Ellenson, but Anderson is the perfect Van Gundy stretch 4. And after moving Marcus Morris for Avery Bradley, acquiring Anderson could help get the Pistons back to the playoffs.
For the Knicks, they get another young, stretch big in Ellenson, and Ariza, who comes off the books next offseason. Jackson isn’t exactly a player the Knicks should target, but he’s young and maybe a change of scenery would help.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are another team that has movable contracts and could use Anderson’s shooting. At this point, Gorgui Dieng is about as good of an asset/player as anyone we’ve seen mentioned in Melo trades, and he would be a great get for the Knicks as a young, rim-protecting big to pair with Kristaps Porzingis.
It also makes sense for the Wolves to move Dieng after signing Taj Gibson in the offseason. Replacing him with Anderson would be tough, especially at Anderson’s price for the next three years. However, this Wolves roster isn’t exactly stacked with shooters, and Anderson could be a super sixth man for them.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, it seems like any deal they make they need to find a taker for Anderson. We’ve heard rumors that this trade could involve four teams, which would probably be best for the Knicks. With that said, the only future first-round pick that the Rockets don’t own is their 2018 pick, which was given up for Paul. Maybe Anderson, a handful of young players on cheap contracts, and a future first-round pick actually is enough for Anthony.
Either way, the likeliness of a satisfying return for Anthony seems grim, and the Knicks can only blame themselves. The writing has been on the wall for this team to rebuild, and they only allowed Anthony’s value to deteriorate.
Their biggest hope is that another team will want Anderson, and that said team would be willing to give up assets for him. Bad contracts like Timofey Mozgov’s and DeMarre Carroll’s have been attached to incredible assets in trades just to clear salary. A situation similar to those two trades would be ideal, and smart for the Knicks.
For the last time, we’re talking about a 12-time All-Star who still has plenty left in the tank. That the Knicks are struggling so hard to get anything back for Anthony only speaks to their ineptitude.
This trade will be a big statement about the direction they’re heading post-Phil Jackson.
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