After taking a break from trade talks, the Knicks have reportedly renewed discussions with the Rockets on a possible deal involving Carmelo Anthony. The veteran forward has let New York know he does not want to return this season, and he is using his no-trade clause as leverage to force his way to the only team on his “list” of preferred destinations, Houston.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the Rockets were “again canvassing third-team trade partners to construct a deal.” New York wants to go young, and Houston has had trouble coming up with appealing assets in exchange for Anthony, causing both squads to look for help from another team.
One issue has been the Knicks’ reluctance to take back Rockets forward Ryan Anderson’s contract, which has three years and $60 million left on it. A trade was frequently rumored to be nearing completion earlier in the offseason, but talks stalled when New York fired team president Phil Jackson and hired a new general manager, Scott Perry.
Wojnarowski reported that Perry “has been far more particular about the package he’d want in return for Anthony.” He added that when the Knicks paused trade talks, they tried to convince Anthony to either consider returning to New York or add more teams to his trade list.
However, Anthony is remaining steadfast in his insistence on being traded only to Houston, where he has a close friend in Chris Paul, along with another star with whom he is on good terms, James Harden. The New York Post reported Thursday that the Knicks floated the idea of a trade to the Pelicans, but that Anthony told the team “he would not agree to waive his no-trade clause for New Orleans.”
Other teams with an interest in Anthony, according to the Post, include the Cavaliers, Trail Blazers and Thunder. Anthony had reportedly indicated that he would be open to a trade to Cleveland, where he has another superstar pal in LeBron James, but he changed his mind amid a summer of turmoil for the Cavs.
A major element of that turmoil has been Kyrie Irving’s own trade demand, news of which was followed by reports that he wanted to be dealt to the Knicks. That would seem to set up some sort of trade involving Anthony and Irving, but Cleveland is reportedly seeking an exceptionally high return for its talented point guard.
Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have openly campaigned for Anthony to come to their team, but so far, he is apparently not receptive to that pitch. New Orleans’s DeMarcus Cousins recently offered a strong hint that he, too, had lobbied Anthony to consider his team.
Meanwhile, the Rockets may be content to let the trade standoff linger into the season, to see if the Knicks eventually lower their asking price. “Houston wants Anthony to join a lineup with James Harden and Chris Paul primarily to make a run in the playoffs together, and an in-season deal could still give them ample time to build chemistry for the postseason,” Wojnarowski wrote.