Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is available, we know that because Phil Jackson has foolishly tipped his hand over the last few months when it comes to Anthony, taking all the leverage away from New York in any trade talks, while writing the manual on how not to run a franchise.
Anthony is a future Hall of Famer, a 10-time All-Star, three-time Olympic gold medalist and another member of the vaunted 2003-04 draft class of which three – No. 1 pick LeBron James, No. 4 Chris Bosh and No. 5 Dwyane Wade – already have played for the Heat.
Anthony, taken third in that draft, is a transcendent scorer with many flaws.
So, with a pool of free agents that could offer little help when it comes to major impact players, should the Heat make a move for the soon-to-be 33-year-old?
Heat president Pat Riley has made it clear, he is not happy sitting home during the playoffs with a .500 record, even if it took a stunning 30-11 second half to get there. Riley is determined to return the Heat to a contender and has many avenues. One of them could be trading for ‘Melo.’
Riley likes superstars, but does Anthony have enough left to fill that role? Anthony is 6-foot-8 and can play both forward spots. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 43.3 percent from the floor, 36 percent on 3-pointers.
And while playing for the most dysfunctional team in the NBA.
By trading for Melo the Heat would be acquiring an aging one-on-one player who long ago showed his disdain for playing defense, quite the opposite of the “Heat culture” we suddenly have heard so much about. Anthony has averaged at least 34 minutes in each of his 14 seasons. And although his 35,334 regular season minutes are between the two more famous players from his class – James’ and Wade’s – Anthony at least has fewer postseason miles on his legs having advanced past the first round twice in his career.
The Heat take pride in maximizing a player’s talent through conditioning and scheme. They have done it over and over with the latest examples being James Johnson and Dion Waiters, and likely believe they could get Anthony to buy in, which could help extend his career and possibly give him a chance at a title, or even playing in a Finals, something he has never done. Anthony hasn’t been a poster boy when it comes to conditioning, but if he put in the effort he could give Miami a boost offensively that it may not be able to add through free agency and the trade market. The Heat then would have to figure out a way to get by on the defensive end, as it did this season with Luke Babbitt starting 55 games.
But what would it take to add Anthony. ..
Two issues complicate any trade involving Melo:
1. He would have to waive his no-trade clause.
2 .He has a 15 percent trade bonus, a clause that increases a player’s salary if he is moved. Although the Knicks would pay the bonus, that money is added to the Heat’s numbers for salary cap purposes. The bonus is allocated across the remaining years of his contract. A player, though, can waive all or part of his trade bonus under certain circumstances.
Anthony made $24.5 million this season and then has two years remaining at $26.2 million next season and a player option at $27.9 million for 2018-19. His trade bonus gives him a cap number of $29.5 million this season.
Miami could make the deal by waiving Bosh, which would rid $24.5 million from its payroll and cap. But because the Heat are about $8 million over the cap they would need to throw in additional salaries such as Josh McRoberts’ $5.8 million and, even if Anthony were allowed to waive his trade bonus, another for around $3 million.
But a deal would take away virtually all of Miami’s flexibility this summer and its ability to re-sign both Johnson and Waiters.
Adding Anthony’s salary to the roster reduces Miami’s cap space to anywhere between $7 million and $12 million, again, mostly depending on the trade bonus. With that money, the Heat certainly would lose Waiters but could have just enough to re-sign Johnson.
That would also mean not exercising the team option on Wayne Ellington’s contract and losing free agent Willie Reed, who likely will leave either way.
Then, the Heat would be left to either fill the void at power forward with somewhere around $10 million if Johnson leaves or, if they can keep Johnson, filling out the roster with minimum contracts.
So, would you trade for Carmelo Anthony?