Carmelo Anthony………….By Stephen Siracusa 

By
Updated: August 8, 2017
Carmelo Anthony has reportedly made his list of potential trade destinations down to one, which means the staring contest between the New York Knicks and their disgruntled star is coming into focus.

The ongoing talks about Kyle Irving has given Anthony pause about waiving his no-trade clause to join LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the 10-time All-Star is now only interested in joining Banana Boat buddy Chris Paul on the Houston Rockets.

With reports “Anthony really wants to be a Rocket” thoughts quickly turned to a package centered around Anthony heading back to Cleveland in return, since the Cavs were on his short list of teams for which he would waive his no-trade clause. A swap of the disgruntled stars, with additional assets leaving New York, made some sense, since Irving and Kristaps Porzingis would be a formidable foundation, and Melo’s presence may help Cleveland convince LeBron to stay.

The Cavaliers should not take Anthony’s refusal to join the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions lightly. This revelation follows a report that Jimmy Butler was warned to stay away by Cavs players over concerns about the team’s impending implosion. Cleveland tried to get Butler, but the Chicago Bulls instead traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. With an increasing number of stars reportedly unwilling to pair with James, the Cavaliers have to be concerned about both their long-term prospects of keeping LeBron and the possibility of getting equal value in an Irving trade.

The Knicks, obviously, were unwilling to include Porzingis and unsure of sending multiple first-round picks in addition to Anthony in an offer for Irving, so the two sides were unable to reach a deal.

Anthony’s decision to cut the Cavs from his list and focus solely on getting to the Rockets makes any resurrection of those discussions unlikely. However, negotiating a deal with Houston has also proven difficult for New York, since the Knicks would prefer not to take on cumbersome contracts in return for the two years and $54 million left on Anthony’s deal, and the Rockets have been unable to find a third team willing to take on Ryan Anderson’s remaining three years and $61 million to facilitate the deal.

Despite the departure of team president Phil Jackson, who repeatedly ridiculed Anthony and insisted on trading the three-time Olympic gold medalist, Anthony has maintained on wanting out of New York under replacement president Steve Mills and new general manager Scott Perry. Melo failed in an effort to negotiate a buyout, but has offered to waive the additional $8 million “trade kicker” the Knicks would be on the hook for if they send him to Houston. On the other side of the negotiating table, Mills and Perry suggested they would be willing to enter the season with Anthony still on the roster.

Thus, the staring contest. If Anthony must be traded, the Knicks would clearly prefer he expand his list of potential partners, because the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly expressed interest and both might be better suited than the Cavs or Rockets to meet the asking price.

Instead, Anthony trimmed his list in half. Now, Melo is essentially saying, If you want to trade me so badly, you’ll have to take the less-than-ideal offer from Houston, and the Knicks are countering, If you want to be traded so badly, you’ll have to let us find a more ideal offer than the one from Houston. All of which should make for a fun rest of the summer for Knicks fans who await which side makes the first move.