The Cleveland Cavaliers have been considered as a potential destination for Carmelo Anthony, should he force his way out of New York. Cleveland is home to the best player in the world and Anthony’s good friend LeBron James. The city itself is a short plane ride from Anthony’s family. After falling short in two of the last three NBA Finals, the Knicks forward could be regarded as the missing link to push them over the top.
Chris Paul’s migration to the Houston to join James Harden and Kyrie Irving’s recent trade request from the Cavaliers have collectively motivated Anthony to only have eyes for Houston. According to ESPN’s Ian Begley, sending Anthony to Cleveland is, at this point, not an option for that very reason. Anthony holds power.
Irving’s trade request throws a wrench in many plans across the league. James can’t carry Cleveland alone, especially against a team like Golden State. The Cavaliers need to get substantial talent back in return, but without Irving, they’ll admittedly be further away from standing as a championship contender. That obviously doesn’t appeal to Anthony when there are more viable options to be had.
But Irving’s availability also gives the Knicks hope of actually making improvements upon trading Anthony. Irving is a 25 year old superstar with a championship ring and an Olympic medal already to his credit. He’s primed to continue taking this league by storm. He would serve as the headlining attraction for the Knicks in the present and long-term future. With Kristaps Porzingis and other young pieces still developing and on the rise, the Knicks have a concrete core and can afford to send a couple draft picks alongside Anthony. They’d still be in a very good spot otherwise.
As part of his no-trade clause, Anthony can control where he goes in any potential the trade. The Knicks, however, control if he goes anywhere at all.
In his first official appearance as Knicks President at a recent press conference, Steve Mills said the team would only entertain mutually beneficial trade scenarios. “Our view is if there’s an opportunity that works for Carmelo and works for us, then we’ll look at some kind of trade,” he said. “But we also feel that Carmelo Anthony could easily be a part of our team next year.”
New General Manager Scott Perry further conveyed that sentiment. “If there’s something there that’s going to be mutually beneficial to both teams, then we could look at maybe something that would involved a trade, but also very much look at the possibility there may not be something there that makes sense for us to move our team forward and Carmelo would be back and would look forward to working with him in that capacity,” Perry said.
At this point, the new front office regime is merely keeping an open mind as Perry gets settled in. Such a viewpoint on the Anthony situation could become something of an ultimatum to the 33 year old, if he isn’t willing to budge just a little.
Anthony can control where he goes. He may have reason to prioritize Houston over Cleveland given his power, it’s absolutely his right to do so. Sooner than later, however, he may need to start considering whether or not he still prioritizes Cleveland over the possibility of playing in New York come next season.