An Unlikely Scenario
By Josh Miller,
It’s that time of year when trade rumors swirl around like the Santa Ana winds, no matter how unrealistic they are. The bottom line is everyone loves a major deal that shakes up the league, and in the NBA, where there are five players on the court for a team at one team, a trade, no matter the significance, can make a major difference. One of the rumors that keeps popping up is a Knicks-Clippers trade revolving around Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony. The deal could include Deandre Jordan and Tyson Chandler along with other names added in. The deal would certainly create a ripple affect throughout the league, and dramatically change the style of play and futures of these two teams.
I’ll go ahead and say that this trade would favor the Knicks, because their trajectory would change more by default because they aren’t very good right now. It is hard to say it would favor the Clippers, just because the Clippers are already an elite team. We just don’t know if it would get the Clippers into the NBA Finals. There are several reasons why the Knicks get the better end of the deal. The first is because Blake Griffin is 24 years old, and having a fantastic season, definitely the best of his career. While he is not as polished as a lot of other power forwards in the league, his game has certainly developed over the last couple seasons, and him being still so young gives him plenty more room for growth. Another reason is that a Griffin-Melo swap would bring the Knicks out of their stagnant, isolation based offense, making them more exciting and probably more effective. The next step would be putting players around Griffin who, like Chris Paul, would be able to get him the ball in the best situations and putting him in the best position to score and make plays. Maybe adding Darren Collison to the mix would give the Knicks a young, play-making guard to keep the ball moving around the perimeter.
Across the coast, on the Clippers’ side, it would most definitely change the make-up and style of play of Doc Rivers’ team. You can say goodbye to “Lob City” with the departures of Griffin and Jordan, even if Tyson Chandler would be reunited with Chris Paul. However, I think this deal would bring the best out of Anthony, a player who has never really played with another ball-dominating player. Aside from the couple years he played with Chauncey Billups in Denver, when he was probably at his best, the offensive possessions often began and ended with Carmelo trying to make something happen in isolation. The two players have openly said how they would like to play together, and it would be fun to see two of the most potent offensive players in the game on the same team. Chris Paul attracts so much attention already, and he is really the only player on the Clippers that can get his own shot at will. Adding Anthony would free up both players, and make each other’s lives easier. For Carmelo, it would certainly be a blessing given how much mileage is already on this guy. He has played a ton of minutes and is pressured so much every game, so pairing him with another star would do wonders.
I think it all depends on if he is ready to admit to himself that he needs another player like CP3 to win a championship. Believe it or not, this is Anthony’s 11th season in the NBA, and at this point, winning a championship and getting a ring is the only thing that should matter for him, not any individual goals. With him being a free agent at the end of the year, it’s all in his control whether he wants to sign what would most likely be his last max contract in New York, or elsewhere. If he is leaning towards elsewhere, and it certainly seems that way, the Knicks would need to get maximum via trade and the team trading for him would need a guarantee that he would sign an extension with them. However, this could change if they keep up their recent hot streak. The Knicks have won 5 of 6 games in January with Amar’e Stoudemire getting into the mix and becoming relevant again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Knicks have started winning with J.R. Smith on the bench. He really has been more of a liability than an asset this year, and they should attempt to trade him as soon as possible. With Anthony being from the East Coast, and New York in particular, it would surprise me if he has a change of heart if they somehow squeak into the playoffs in the god-awful eastern conference, considering how much it took for him to be dealt to New York several years ago.
The initial reports coming out of New York are that they are not fielding any offers for Tyson Chandler, who has become quite the defensive anchor since he won a championship on the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Chandler was considered a bust in the early going of his career, after being drafted out of high school second overall in the 2001 draft, but has found his niche and has turned into a nice center in this league. It is not surprising to me that the Knicks want to hold onto him. He is a little more defensively sound than Deandre Jordan at this point in the career, but has probably lost some leaping ability, and definitely doesn’t have the same athletic gifts as Jordan. However, it would be fun to see Chandler paired again with his old buddy from New Orleans, Chris Paul. Those guys ran the textbook pick-and-roll alley-oop to perfection time after time on the Hornets, and it would keep some of the “Lob City” flair in L.A.
Now, for the trade to work, the salaries have to match. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler’s contracts combine out to a little more than a whopping $35 million for two players. Wow, the Knicks really hamstrung themselves there. Griffin and Jordan’s deals combine to make a little more than $27 million. Adding in Collison and J.J. Redick would get the salaries pretty close. The other options on the Clippers are Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, and Matt Barnes. Players on the Clippers roster making $1 million or less include Byron Mullens, Ryan Hollins, Antawn Jamison, and Willie Green. The Knicks would most likely have to do some roster maneuvering to get this deal to work. Players like Jeremy Tyler and Beno Udrih might have to be waived for the deal to be complete.
I am trying to think of other potential teams that would consider trading for Carmelo. There is most likely only a handful just because teams really have to have the right situation with their current players and able to sign him to a max deal, after making enough cap space. Maybe a team like the Pistons, who have two young, legitimate frontcourt players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, with their big free agent signee Josh Smith not working out. It might be time to pull the plug on that experiment. The Golden State Warriors could be another team that could try to really elevate themselves with a deal like this. They have enough assets and pairing Anthony with Steph Curry would be dangerous. I think you have to consider the Lakers just because they are always involved when a big-name player becomes available. The only question is if they have the players to make a deal. Next, the Phoenix Suns come to mind just because they have two dynamite guards in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, and adding a potent score like Anthony would make them a squad.
When it’s all said and done, I hope Melo plays on a winning team by the team he really starts to age. While I have never been a huge fan of his game, I respect his scoring ability and if he is in the right situation, he should be able to win a championship. Whether it means trading players on the Knicks to bring in someone else, or calling the Knicks experiment quits and fleeing to another squad, he doesn’t deserve to be wasting away on a lottery team at this point in his career. While it is unrealistic that Chris Paul will go to New York, which is what was swirling around several years ago, maybe us fans will get a treat with this major deal, and Carmelo will be grinning ear to ear as he heads to the city of angels.