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The Knicks can still trade Carmelo Anthony – if he lets them. Maybe he should.

Jun 20, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

Carmelo Anthony, D.J. Augustin Carmelo Anthony, D.J. Augustin

Carmelo Anthony is not long for the New York Knicks, it seems.

The Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Heat are circling. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher couldn’t persuade him to play out the final year of his contract, and though their meeting with Melo went well, I bet Melo’s meeting with other suitors will also go well.

The writing is on the wall.

At minimum, Melo wants to become a free agent, and at that point, he could leave New York in the dust. But to do that, he’d have to leave more than $33 million on the table.

Maybe the Knicks and Melo could help each other avoid those undesirable outcomes by working together to trade the star.

Players can’t be traded after a season when they’ll become free agents or might become free agents due to an option that offseason. So, Melo is currently untradable because he holds an early termination option (the functional equivalent of a player option). But he can become tradable by amending his contract to remove the option, guaranteeing his deal extends through next season.

That essentially gives him power to approve any trade.

Like where the Knicks would send him? Waive the option.

Don’t like where the Knicks would send him? Refuse to waive the option.

A trade could allow Melo to make more money and the Knicks to guarantee themselves compensation, maybe even netting them a 2014 draft pick. If they want to pursue this route, the clock is ticking. Melo must decide on his option by Monday.

What’s in it for Melo?

As soon as Melo terminates his contract, he’s committing to a salary reduction for next season. His max starting salary as a free agent is $875,003 less than his option-year salary.

That’s a relative small amount to relinquish in order to secure a long-term contract – a max of more than $129 million re-signing with the Knicks or $95 million elsewhere.

But the $875,003 matters, because if Melo were to opt in, the value of a max deal he signs next summer would be determined by his salary this season. Comparing deals signed after playing out the option year to max deals signed this summer, he’d make $11.7 million more if he re-signs or $8.7 million more if he leaves – and don’t forget about the $ 23,333,405 he’d make this season.

Of course, there’s no guarantee Melo would command a max contract next offseason.

Melo is coming off the two best seasons of his career. He’ll definitely draw max offers now.

But he’s also 30, and most players begin to decline around this age.

If Melo wants to simply terminate his contract and secure a long-term deal while he knows he can get one, I definitely wouldn’t blame him. That’s the safe route and the one he seems set to travel.

However, if he wants to leave New York, agreeing to a trade would net him an extra $68 million – as long as he still gets a max contract in 2015. It’s a risk, but the reward exists.

The best money is in re-signing with your current team, and it’s not too late for Melo to change his current team.

It might be too late for him to get the “Dwight Howard treatment,” but Melo can still cause a stir this weekend.

Melo has never been a free agent. He signed an extension with the Nuggets and another extension when traded to the Knicks.

I think Melo wants teams woo him, to line up at his door and one-by-one make their pitches. No doubt, it would be a fun experience.

The Knicks have already started the process, and they can grant teams permission to negotiate with Melo as part of a trade. Remember, trade partners must sell Melo, because he’s untradable without his consent.

And why would he give consent to a trade rather than just signing with that new team in a month?

Here’s the most Melo could earn by terminating his contract (orange) or agreeing to a trade and then signing a new contract in 2015 (blue). Both scenarios show re-signing with his current team and leaving his current team.

Path 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Total
Waive ETO for trade, re-sign $23,333,405 $24,500,075 $26,337,581 $28,175,087 $30,012,592 $31,850,098 $164,208,838
Waive ETO for trade, leave $23,333,405 $24,500,075 $25,602,579 $26,705,082 $27,807,585   $127,948,726
Exercise ETO, re-sign $22,458,402 $24,142,782 $25,827,162 $27,511,542 $29,195,922   $129,135,810
Exercise ETO, leave $22,458,402 $23,469,030 $24,479,658 $25,490,286     $95,897,375

The most Melo could make by leaving the Knicks now is $95,897,375

But if he gets traded to a new team and re-sign there in 2015, a new max contract would be worth $140,875,433 over five years – bringing his six-year total, including this year’s option salary, to $164,208,838.

And if Melo chooses poorly on where he’s traded now and wants to leave his next team in 2015, he could still get four years and $104,615,321 on a max contract – a total of $127,948,726 with this year’s option salary.

Again, deferring a new contract for a year carries major risk. That’s offset by a small bump in guaranteed salary next season and the potential for an even larger payday as a free agent next year than he could get this year. But it is a gamble.

What’s in it for the Knicks? 

If the Knicks lose Melo, they’d like something in return.

They’ll obviously have to weigh the odds he walks as a free agent, the possibility of a sign-and-trade and and what they’re offered in a trade before June 23. But that equation is increasingly pointing to trying to trade him now.

The first step would be granting other teams permission to pitch Melo. After all, he must consent to a deal by waiving his early-termination option.

Simultaneously, New York would negotiate with potential trader partners. Unlike a sign-and-trade, which couldn’t happen until July, this type of trade could land the Knicks a first-round pick in next week’s draft. If they’re rebuilding without Melo, it would be extremely helpful to begin that process now rather than wasting a year.

Finding a workable trade will be difficult, because the team trading for Melo gets him for only one year guaranteed. That will limit New York’s return, but something is better than nothing.

Making matters more difficult is the current trade climate. 

It’s still technically the 2013-14 season through June 30, so 2013-14 salaries are used in trades. Though several teams can easily create cap space when the clock turns over to 2014-15 in July, few have space now.

Plus, because teams can’t trade players who will become free agents this summer or might become free agents due to an option, a ton of players are off the table. The Heat, with only Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton available to deal, would be completely out of the picture in these discussions.

And nearly everyone with a player option has veto power. The standard deadline for a player option or early-termination option is June 30, so as Melo must agree to a deal, so must nearly any player who holds one of those options.

Want to go to New York? Remove the option now. Don’t want to go to New York? Wait to opt in until after Melo’s early deadline.

Because of these restrictions, trades can be very difficult to cobble together. Here are a few examples of what could work:

What’s in it for the trade partner?

Well, you get Melo, one of the NBA’s best scorers.

That’s not without risk, though.

If those above offers seem low, it’s because a team acquiring Melo this way would get him for only one year before he becomes a free agent. That should be a concern, but not as large as it might initially appear.

By agreeing to a trade, Melo would be signaling his interest in re-signing with his new team. Plus, his new team can offer him more money in 2015 free agency than anyone else. It would be relationship set up to succeed.

No team should trade for Melo unless it plans to re-sign him next summer, but if everything goes south quickly, his new team could always flip him before the trade deadline and cut its losses.

Will it happen?

Probably not.

There are a lot moving parts. The Knicks, another team and Melo must all satisfy each other to reach a deal – and there isn’t much time left.

But in all the Melo options being discussed, a trade is overlooked. It’s worth examining.

If, after this process, Melo wanted to stay with the Knicks, he could either terminate his contract and re-sign for $129 million or opt in and then re-sign for up to $164 million. He’s previously ruled out the second option, but that was probably at least partially based on the desire to explore his options. With his options explored in this scenario, maybe he takes his chances on staying in Ne York and earning a larger payday next year.

There’s really no risk in Melo and the Knicks pursuing a trade now. If they don’t find a suitable deal, Melo can opt out Monday as originally planned and hit the ground running in free agency come July 1.

But for the potential of an extra $68 million to Melo and a 2014 draft pick for New York, it’s probably worth the effort to try to find a deal.

  1. cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    Trade him to the Celtics or Bulls. Take the first round picks & get the big name in 2015 or 2016. I wouldn’t give Melo the max.

    • loubearkane - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Make a valid point and get thumbed down , nice.

      • billtetley53 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Lou, people like canton, are going to get thumbed fown on reputation alone. He made such an a s s of himself during the playoffs, its just going to be an automatic, no matter what he types.

        Hes a meathead, so who cares.

        What is everyones preoccupation with the thumbs? Why does anyone care if a total stranger agrees or disagrees with them?

      • loubearkane - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        Was curious the 4 came pretty fast

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        thumbs are meaningless…

        it’s the comments in return that mean something, not the thumbs.

        reading the comments and the lack of reasoning abilities is fun… and also sad as due to people like this the country is going downhill…

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 20, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        Thumbs sure were meaningless when you thumbed down anti!

      • loubearkane - Jun 20, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        Thumb Anti down because he brings Lebron to every story. Whatever team , whatever player that’s why. Otherwise I like the fact he sticks to what he says and doesn’t get sucked into the silly talk.
        To say Lebron played alone is just wrong , Heat had a bad series , the wear and tear of the regular season and lack of depth caught up to them , it is what it is just give the Spurs , Tim Duncan , Greg Popavich etc the credit they deserve.
        I hope Lebron opts out , I would like him to some how land in Philly , not a 76ers fan but would be good for the league.
        Hope Bosh opts out and goes to Dallas , I think he belongs in Texas and maybe he can get back the All Star and potentially HOF form that he had.

        If and when Lebron does leave , will the “Heat Fans” still be around?

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:12 PM

        Thumbs down are bitter heat fans after their beating & knowing I’ve been right all along.

  2. loubearkane - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Jackson is going to have to tear it down before he can build it back up. I really believe Jackson’s goal is to make the Knicks a contender before the Lakers.

    • 1historian - Jun 21, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      of course it is

  3. boctavious - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Cavaliers trade the number 1 pick to Knicks for Melo….Carmelo, Kyrie and….wait for it…..LeBron. Cavs dynasty.

    • bucrightoff - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Still not good enough to beat the Spurs.

    • 1historian - Jun 21, 2014 at 7:58 AM

      2 words that do NOT belong in the same sentence are Cavs and Dynasty

  4. jadaruler - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Any trade with Chicago that does include Butler or Gibson is a loss for the Knicks.

    What about Melo for Bledsoe, one of the twins, and 2 1st rounders?

    • dadawg77 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Why, this isn’t a Kevin Love trade? The Bulls (or other teams) could sign him without the Knicks getting anything for next year. Minn has services of Love for one more year at least, hence a higher trade return. I actually think the Bulls example above is too much for this type of trade. Its basically a sign and trade deal ahead of schedule. Since Melo has to approve the deal for it to happen, the only leverage the Knicks have is how much Melo wants the extra cash. If Melo is willing to leave for the maximum offer of the other team, the Knicks will get very little in return.

  5. nokoolaidcowboy - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    What do you guys think of a trade with the Nets?

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 20, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Knicks need good, young talent and the Nets don’t have much of that, let alone anything else.

      • 1historian - Jun 21, 2014 at 7:59 AM

        and the Celts’ own their #1 this year, 2016 and 2017, by which time they’ll probably be Lottery picks.

    • dadawg77 - Jun 20, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      The expiring contracts on the Nets wouldn’t work.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:34 PM

      Nyet

    • 1historian - Jun 21, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      whoops – the Celts own the Nets’ #`1 in 2017, not 2017.

      • 1historian - Jun 21, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        2018

        duhh

  6. bux1022 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Knicks nets don’t trade, period! Never happening! Melo leaving millions on the table, never happening. We either resign or we will trade him!

  7. tbutler704 - Jun 20, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    You started writing “Melo” and it became a hilarious epidemic.

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