Unless I’m forgetting someone, there are three people in Daryl Morey’s professional life who have continually managed to evade him, any one of whom could serve as his ‘white whale’ when and if a biopic is ever released depicting the Rockets’ general manager. Sergio Llull, who may not ever come over; Chris Bosh, who may not ever play again; and Carmelo Anthony, who might finally get caught. Recall that Morey was willing to trade for Anthony back when the Knicks forward was a Denver Nugget, even without the guarantee of an extension and then, in one of the greatest indignities ever suffered, pursued him again a few summers ago by photoshopping Melo’s body onto Jeremy Lin’s jersey. Anthony turned his nose up at the promise of a Harden and Howard super-team featuring himself, citing a trust in Phil Jackson’s leadership, and re-signed with the Knicks. The rest is history, and now, so too is Phillip.
It was confirmed this morning by various outlets, in a “is this really news?” report, that Anthony has indicated a willingness to waive his no-trade clause if deals with either Houston or Cleveland materialize. Complicating matters is the fact that neither team has anything of any value with which it is coming to the table. Cleveland, at the moment, appears unwilling to part with Kevin Love, while the Rockets’ offer revolves primarily around forward Ryan Anderson. To answer several questions which have come my way, I can almost guarantee Clint Capela would not be involved in an Anthony trade, and similarly, I would be floored if Eric Gordon were to be included. It appears Houston will play the odds, dangling Anderson, or taking its chances in the event of a buy-out.
Is Melo worth the risk? Anderson was an integral part of the team’s offense last season, but was a virtual no-show in Houston’s playoff run. Anthony would give the team a power forward with similar prowess from long range (the two are virtually identical statistically on catch and shoot 3’s), but who can score in a multitude of other ways; Anthony is still one of the game’s most talented individual scorers. And while the concerns over Anthony’s defense are warranted, particularly in a matchup with Golden State, at the least, he is the equivalent of Ryan Anderson on that side of the ball. The big risk would be introducing an ego of such size into the Houston lockerroom, just one year removed from the dumpster fire that was the Rockets’ 2015-2016 campaign when in-fighting tore apart a unit that had reached the conference finals. But what is one to do in the age of the Warriors? The roster as is, while a threat to push 60 wins, almost surely does not boast enough firepower to challenge Golden State. Even with Anthony, the team falls short on paper, but at least such an acquisition would appear to improve the odds. This is why the Rockets agreed to give up so much for Paul, even when he can leave after just one year. The risk-profile has been upped.
A word on Anderson: several of you remarked that this summer’s trade market for the long-range sniper has proved the foolishness of the rich contract doled out by Morey. Understand that I hated the deal at the time. However, if there is no Anderson, there is most likely no 55 wins, and if there is no 55 wins, there is no Chris Paul. Having to live with the remaining $60million on Anderson’s deal is an unfortunate byproduct that the team will just have to live with. But let’s make one thing clear: while his contract stands as the sole obstacle to a major acquisition, and the trade market for his talents are dry, he’s not a worthless player, his playoff performance notwithstanding. Ryan Anderson might be unplayable against Golden State, but he’ll help the Rockets blow most of the rest of the teams in this league out of the water.