For leverage-losing reasons I cannot fathom, New York Knicks boss Phil Jackson has announced his willingness to give away Carmelo Anthony in trade.
“We’ve not been able to win with him on the court,’’ JackZen tells the world. “I think with the direction with our team, he’ll be better off somewhere else.”
For talent-hungry reasons I complete understand, the smart gang at DallasBasketball.com has worked to investigate a match.
But I’m told we should go ahead and unplug The Big Calculator.
NBA writer Steve Kyler added some random logs to the fire by suggesting a connection between ‘Melo and the Dallas Mavericks. But “random’’ isn’t the best way to go about this.
So let’s get specific.
What if we ignore that Anthony is best in isolation play, and that that’s not coach Rick Carlisle’s preferred style?
What if we ignore that Anthony, about to be 33, is — while still capable of stellar offensive nights — beyond his prime?
What if we ignore that his ideal position creates a logjam at the one spot where the Mavs are blessed with a young premium talent in Harrison Barnes?
What if we ignore that Anthony might be viewed as the sort of personality who damages the sort of team chemistry that is so valued by the “Triangle of Trust’’ leadership in Dallas?
Well, I don’t think we can actually ignore that last one.
But The Big Calculator, led by our David Lord, has done smart work here, just in case.
What if, we’ve pondered, the Mavs created an offer featuring Wesley Matthews and Dwight Powell? There are some financial advantages to doing such a thing. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has very specifically told me he wishes to retain Wes (even with that $17.8 mil salary) because of his foundational culture role. Powell hasn’t proven to be worth his $9 mil, but in talking to one staffer the other day, I learned what the Mavs believe he must overcome to get there.
“Dwight,’’ the source told me, “is almost too conscientious, almost too smart. He’s not a natural shot-blocker, and maybe he’ll never get there. But he can become a good shooter, in a stretch-4 sort of way … except that when he has a bad shooting practice or a bad shooting game, he really takes it to heart … and takes it too hard.’’
But hey, let’s do it. Matthews and Powell for ‘Melo? Deal?
“No,’’ a Mavs source tells me.
OK, back to the drawing board.
Phil said the Knicks want a “significant player” in trade for Carmelo. So this almost certainly won’t fly (especially because there will be other teams where he fits better, and with whom he fits better, including clubs that look like title contenders more than the 33-win Mavs do) … let’s try it:
Powell for ‘Melo. Straight-up.
As D-Lord notes, “It works cap-wise. If DAL and NY want a change, this immediately alters the entire landscape for both teams.’’
The Mavs toss in no “significant player,’’ they toss in no picks.
Just a young player and cap space to the Knicks.
I pose the question to the Mavs front office thusly:
“If you could trade for ‘Melo on the cheap … wouldja?’’
And the same answer was volleyed back at me.
Now, just to be CYA, it’s always possible that an organization is bluffing here; you know, “Step Away From Your Crack Pipe,’’ and all that. But our job is to properly translate what we’re told, and our track record here is good. We could also dig deeper, beyond the “no’s’’, to discover the “why’s’’ … though I bet we’ve covered the reasoning in our aforementioned list, and I bet the answers first arrived to Cuban’s club back in 2014, when ‘Melo was “courted’’ by Dallas via free agency in an alarmingly short visit during which the Mavs never actually gave him an attractive offer.
This summer? We can try to throw Devin Harris into this, we can work to understand how deals done in June will be different than deals done after June, we can try to guess where ‘Melo might waive his no-trade clause to land. We can also wonder if he’s a “star’’ in the eyes of a guy like LeBron in Cleveland or a guy like Paul with the Clippers, and whether those are landing spots with more mutual appeal.
But Dallas? The Mavs have, at this moment, under multiple circumstances, two answers on trading for Carmelo Anthony.