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Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks seem destined for a breakup.
With the Knicks, losers of 14 of their last 18 games, falling to 20-27 on the season, reports have emerged that team president Phil Jackson is “determined” to trade Anthony and rebuild around Kristaps Porzingis.
In doing so, Jackson has reportedly contacted the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Clippers to gauge their interest in a trade.
However, two years ago, Jackson made his job more difficult by re-signing Anthony to a five-year, $124 million contract. As part of that deal, Jackson and the Knicks also gave Anthony a no-trade clause.
The no-trade clause is a rare aspect in NBA contracts. In order to secure one, players have to meet a certain number of years in the league, a certain number of years on a certain team, and have to be signing a new dea, not an extension. Still, the clause puts players in control of their destiny. If they don’t like a potential trade, they can shoot it down by refusing to waive their no-trade clause.
Now that kicker is coming back to haunt Jackson. Despite how messy things have gotten for the Knicks this year, rebuilding the team would not be terribly difficult. If Anthony’s contract is moved, the longest, most expensive deals remaining on the team would be Joakim Noah’s four-year, $72 million deal and Courtney Lee’s four-year, $50 million deal. Trading Noah could prove difficult, given his age, price tag, injury history, and underwhelming season so far, but Lee retains value as a 31-year-old three-point shooter and perimeter defender. The Knicks have a future centerpiece in Kristaps Porzingis, all of their draft picks going forward, and future cap space.
But moving Anthony is a balancing act. Anthony has reiterated his desire to stay in New York, though he’s said he would consider waiving the clause if the Knicks wanted to rebuild.
Still, for Anthony to waive it, the Knicks would likely have to move him to a team that’s ready to compete for a championship. That narrows the list by itself, but the Knicks also have to find a return package that suits them.
Consider that the Cavaliers reportedly rejected the idea of an Anthony-Kevin Love swap. With few future draft picks to offer and only a handful of young prospects, the Cavs likely have little that could interest the Knicks.
New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reported on Thursday that a potential trade with the Clippers may not involve any of their Big 3 of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, or DeAndre Jordan. In fact, the Knicks can’t trade for Griffin, due to a little-known CBA rule. While Isola reports a potential trade could involve J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, or Austin Rivers, the Clippers also don’t have many draft picks to offer, and the Knicks are likely not salivating over that package.
The problems extend down the line – would potential contenders give away anything of value for Anthony and would Anthony accept a trade for them?
Perhaps Jackson didn’t envision this being a problem when the Knicks re-signed Anthony in 2014, or perhaps, a no-trade clause was needed to edge out other teams offering a more competitive team than the Knicks. Regardless, it’s become the biggest hurdle for Jackson if he truly wants to rebuild, and no matter how “determined” he may be to trade Anthony, any deal is wholly reliant on Anthony’s willingness to waive the clause.