The Houston Rockets appear to be going all-in in their efforts to become the NBA’s next superteam, and now they have their sights clearly set on adding one more All-Star: Carmelo Anthony.
After the Rockets previously traded for point guard Chris Paul and on Saturday signed MVP runner-up James Harden to the richest extension in NBA history, Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that the Rockets had turned their “full attention” to completing a trade for Anthony.
“The Rockets have fast-tracked the Harden extension with the arrival of All-Star guard Chris Paul and are turning full attention to completing a deal with the New York Knicks to acquire eight-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony in a trade,” the two said, citing league sources.
Wojnarowski has reported that Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause with the New York Knicks – but only if he is traded to the Rockets or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A deal with the Rockets, however, would not be easy.
Wojnarowski previously reported that the Cavs were “a preferred destination” for Anthony because of LeBron James. But the Rockets have another disadvantage in that they are already over the salary cap; Anthony is owed $54.2 million over the next two seasons, including $26.3 million in 2017-2018 salary. A deal would also put him in line for an additional $8.1 million “trade kicker.”
While Anthony could waive some or all of the trade kicker, doing so would increase his salary next season to $34.4 million, an amount the Rockets would be required to give up in any trade.
It is not an impossible task for the Rockets. They could include players like Ryan Anderson, who has a 2017-2018 salary of $19.6 million, in a trade. But Wojnarowski also reported that the Knicks had been “reluctant” to even consider Anderson in a trade, as he is owed more than $60 million over the next three seasons.
The Rockets also do not have a first-round draft pick in 2018 to offer the Knicks, having included one in the recent trade for Paul.
There is also the issue of Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who previously coached Anthony with the Knicks for parts of two seasons. D’Antoni resigned midway through 2011-2012 season, at least in part because of a well-publicized butting of heads between him and Anthony.
It would seem that Anthony is now willing to put aside his beef with D’Antoni for a shot at a championship ring, but the Rockets will have to get creative to outbid the Cavs.