By John Schmeelk
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It wouldn't have been All-Star Weekend without a trade rumor revolving around Carmelo Anthony.
It was at this time of year that the Knicks' trade with the Denver Nuggets to acquire Anthony really materialized. With this season's trade deadline approaching, Frank Isola of the Daily News has once again thrown the Knicks' only All-Star-caliber player into the mix in a potential deal.
The details of the trade are not known, mostly because everything seems so preliminary they probably weren't even discussed. But, here's what was believed to have been discussed: the Knicks would get Timofey Mozgov, and then some combination of draft picks from the Celtics, including the Nets' unprotected pick this year, and players to match salary. Kevin Love would head to the Celtics with Anthony going to Cleveland.
Anthony responded by saying he isn't going anywhere. LeBron said the deal isn't happening.
Knicks fans, however, are excited to talk about something and debate whether a move like that would be good for the team. As someone that was in favor of signing and trading Anthony two summers ago, and then advocated it again after drafting Kristaps Porzingis, to me it makes a certain amount of sense.
Simply put, by the time Porzingis turns 25, Anthony will be 36. Their prime seasons do not overlap. The chance the two of them winning a title, or even making a significant playoff run with both playing their best basketball is slim to none. Melo's surgically repaired knee is also a problem and a red flag.
Before all the hate mail comes in, I stress the following: this is not Anthony's fault. It is simply the timeline. Anthony has been playing great team basketball this season and up until his injury was making a better effort on defense as well. Father Time, though, can be bested by no man.
In theory, however, it would be best for the Knicks to get real value for their star before he declines so much that he rides off into the sunset and the team potentially gets nothing in return. Anthony can opt out of his five-year deal in the summer of 2018. That means his trade value will be at its highest between now and the trade deadline next season. The summer of 2017 could be a possibility as well.
None of that matters because the Knicks gave Anthony a no-trade clause. He has made it abundantly clear that he wants to stay in New York, despite the fact there seems to be little to no chance the Knicks will be a title contender during his time here. He likes the city. So does his wife. His kids are in school here and are happy. Right now, that seems to be his priority. The question remains: when could that change?
At what point does Anthony decide that he wants to have a real chance at winning a championship? When does that become his priority? Maybe he thinks the Knicks can make a real addition this summer in free agency? Is he willing to wait to see if the team can do so next summer? Or maybe he just doesn't care about his legacy and winning a championship, as much as he cares about being in New York. The city should applaud his loyalty, even though the team would be wasting an asset it could use to make the Knicks a championship-caliber team five years from now.
There is no shortage of teams that could use Anthony. The Cavs could pair him with LeBron in the front court as part of the rumored three-way trade, which would land the Knicks a high pick in this year's draft and other future assets. The Heat could try to make one more run with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and send Justise Winslow to New York. The Los Angeles Clippers could try to put Melo with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan and send Blake Griffin to the Knicks. Those are either big-market teams, or teams that have friends of Anthony that he previously professed an interest.
If any of those trades become feasible (and there's no evidence they are right now), the Knicks as a franchise would be better off long term. A trade could provide Porzingis with a future running mate when he hits his prime years. That, above all else, needs to be the Knicks' one and only priority. If you win along the way, great, but that can't be the most important priority. Melo's no-trade clause is preventing this and giving it to him in the first place was clearly a mistake.
But all that is moot until Anthony what he wants. He is likely going to go a third straight year without making the playoffs. If a new coach is hired this offseason, it will be his fifth since joining the Knicks. If appearances become reality, Phil Jackson will not hire the coach that will give Anthony the best chance to win a title: Tom Thibodeau.
All the losing must be grating on Anthony. He is a prideful athlete. He simply can't like this. The question remains: what will be the straw the breaks the camel's back? What will make Anthony change his mind and want out? Is it inevitable? Or will it never happen? Only one person knows the answer: Carmelo Anthony.
For everything Knicks, Giants and the world of sports, follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk
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