One of the best parts about being a fan is the hypothetical. Creating, discussing, arguing; the imaginary can be just as entertaining as following the actual games. So with just a few days left before the trade deadline, I’m going to steal an idea from ESPN Insider’s Amin Elhassan, and explore some in-depth trade ideas that make sense for the home team. IMPORTANT: These are not actual trade rumors; I have no inside information and none of them should be treated as such. They’re simply ideas that would be interesting (if not improbable) to witness were they to actually play out in real-time. Not to mention cannon fodder for the forums. So without further adieu, we start our look at a trade offered up to our fearless leader by a reader in his most recent podcast.
The trade proposed by twitter-follower @_VK_Chino (apologies if I didn’t get that completely right) originally involved Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert/Tim Hardway Jr for Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Donatas Motiejunas and a first-round pick. First off, I do completely agree with Rahat that it would take Melo informing the New York brass that he was absolutely not interested in staying in New York any longer. So this type of trade would be much more likely to be of the sign-and-trade variety over the summer, rather than before the February 20th deadline. But maybe Melo reaches his last straw this weekend after being around all the other talent at the All-Star game and asks out early.
Also, were the Knicks forced to actually trade Melo, I don’t see any universe where they would include one of their young talents unless it was for another star-player. Why would they include not only the best player in the trade, but also one of the few pieces on their team that actually holds value? Another problem I see with the trade as it was offered up in its original form is Omer Asik. The Knicks already employ Tyson Chandler, and adding Asik would create the same problem Houston is (hypothetically) attempting to trade out of, not to mention it further increases the log jam in New York’s frontcourt. So any trade involving these two teams for Melo would likely involve a third team. So with that line of thinking as our starting-point, and the Dallas Mavericks as our third team, here is my proposed idea:
Houston receives: Carmelo Anthony and Devin Harris
New York receives: Jeremy Lin, Brandon Wright, Ronnie Brewer, Houston’s 2014 1st-round pick and Dallas’s 2015 2nd-round pick.
Dallas receives: Omer Asik
Why Dallas does it - This trade is a steal for them. Wright is an underrated power forward (currently 11th in PER @ 24.27), but only averages 18 minutes a game this season for the Mavs. Omer Asik would immediately upgrade their center position, replacing the over-matched former-Rocket Samuel Dalembert in the starting lineup. And Marc Cuban is one of the few owners in the Association that wouldn’t blink at taking on Asik’s poison-pill final year. Devin Harris is a scorer, but he’s merely depth at this point in his career.
Why New York does it - As stated before, they only do it because their hand has been forced. But also because Raymond Felton might be the worst regular-starting point guard in the league. And if the Knicks were going to lose Melo, the best way to ease fan’s heartbreak would be to bring back the prodigal son. Lin may have lost some of his luster since his Knicks-days, but would no doubt still be a fan-favorite in New York. They also get Wright and his amazing efficiency, something the Knicks desperately need, and a few picks to replenish their coffers after so many ill-fated trades. Ronnie Brewer is simply cap-filler.
Why Houston does it - This one is a little tougher to pin down. This trade may seem like a steal for Houston, and recalling what New York gave up to trade for Melo, it is a steal. But were Anthony to actually be traded before the deadline, not too many teams (and especially not a contender) would be comfortable giving up serious assets for what might end up being a two-month rental. So while New York would certainly prefer to get back a top pick or a young stud, knocking a large chunk off their tax bill and getting back the biggest New York basketball phenomena since Bernard King would at least be something to consider.
Let’s start with the less interesting part for the Rockets. Devin Harris would be a fine scorer off the bench. And McHale, if he didn’t want to take the lumps of integrating him, can always lean on Arron Brooks as backup point guard. And as for Melo, Rahat was correct to call a potential Rockets’ offense featuring Anthony, Harden and Howard unstoppable. There would be no area of the court where Houston wouldn’t be incredibly dangerous, and forcing opponents to cover every inch of it defensively would make for an exhausting endeavor.
But adding a player like Melo at a time when the Rockets are just starting to hum could be a risky proposition. Can an already individually high-usage team add the ultimate high-usage player? Lets just say Kevin Mchale would have his work cut out for him. Although, the thing that surprised me most about the 2012 Olympics was how willingly Anthony seemed to take a backseat as the primary option when he was on the court. Playing on a team that also featured Chris Paul and LeBron James left him little choice, but Melo absolutely shined in his off-the-ball role, shooting 50% from three for the tournament.
Would Melo really take a backseat to James Harden as the primary ball-handler? And from an unbiased point-of-view, should he? More importantly, who takes the final shot in a tie game? Alpha-dog issues like that could really derail a team that is finally starting to take form and sharing the ball better than earlier in the season. But one thing Simmons always says: if you can turn two quarters, a dime and a nickel into a dollar, you do it. And be sure, Melo is a dollar. I would have to think long and hard about this one, but were it to actually happen, Houston would feature a starting lineup with three top-15 talents. Can the Heat, Thunder or Pacers even say that?
(On a less interesting, more realistic note: replace Devin Harris with Vince Carter, and a Rockets-Mavs trade makes a ton of sense.)