With the Knicks franchise in shambles and Phil Jackson actively trying to run him out of town, Carmelo Anthony has long been rumored to be linked to the Cavaliers to team up with 2003 Draft buddy LeBron James.
Well, the first step to that potential reality might be in place, per Marc Stein.
League sources: Carmelo Anthony's camp, while acknowledging Melo's preference to stay in NYC, has tried to engage the Knicks in buyout talks— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 27, 2017
But league sources say that the Knicks have thus far resisted the idea of a Melo buyout that would clear the way for him to join the Cavs— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 27, 2017
Though trading Kevin Love for Anthony is the often-discussed route, a buyout was always the more palatable option. Love is too good to be traded for Anthony, and Anthony’s trade kicker that raises his cap number made a deal hard to stomach from Cleveland’s perspective. If Phil Jackson has done one thing, it’s been to plummet any value that the Knicks could get back for Anthony.
Stein explicitly mentioned that the Cavaliers as a team Melo would join if he were to receive a buyout, and that makes sense. If he’s taking a buyout, he’ll likely be joining a contender and all of the prospective contenders that would have interest are either capped out or have plans for their money elsewhere.
The most the Cavaliers could pay Anthony is the $5.1 million taxpayer mid-level exception, though they may want to split that number to pay Dwyane Wade who also may be facing a buyout. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the Knicks haven’t yet bit on a buyout, though they don’t have a ton of leverage in the situation.
How long will the Knicks maintain their unwillingness to buy Melo out when he can block any trade? One of the summer's hottest questions ...— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 27, 2017
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about Melo’s fit in Cleveland. He likes to have the ball in his hands and the Cavaliers already have two ball-dominant stars in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. He’s also a terrible defender and has had health problems in the last couple years, and he’ll have a hard time slowing down the Warriors potent attack.
With that said, people concerned about the potential addition need to pump the brakes and re-evaluate the situation. The Cavaliers would be paying a fairly minimal sum of money to add Melo. Fit aside (and there’s plenty of reasons he would be a good fit), there’s no minimum-level free agent on the market that comes close to Carmelo’s value.
This isn’t an instance of the Cavaliers giving up a star asset to bring Melo in. This hypothetical would bring him in for functionally free. It’d be a no-brainer for the Cavaliers who need as much help as they can get in the arms race to beat the Warriors.