In the days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline, reports indicated that the Celtics weren’t overly enamored with the idea of acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post though, the Celtics coaching staff was in favor of making such a deal. GM Danny Ainge, however, had “too many reservations,” per Berman.
One of Ainge’s primary concerns, according to Berman, was that trading for Anthony would compromise the Celtics’ projected salary cap room for the summer. The Post’s report isn’t the first to suggest that the ability to have free agency flexibility is important for Ainge — it was believed to be one roadblock for a major deadline trade. If the Celtics remain well under the cap, they could attempt to land a top free agent – such as Gordon Hayward – and then would still have the ability to make a big splash on the trade market after using their cap space.
Berman suggests that revisiting an Anthony trade is one possibility for the Celtics in July, and there’s some logic to that idea — an early exit from the playoffs is more likely to spur action for Ainge and the C’s this summer, and the acquisition price for Anthony wouldn’t be as high as it would be for players like Jimmy Butler and Paul George, given Carmelo’s contract situation.
According to Berman, the Knicks would have interest in Jae Crowder in any talks with the Celtics. Reports in February about the Celtics’ inquiries on Butler and George suggested that Boston would likely have to include multiple players from the Crowder/Marcus Smart/Avery Bradley/Jaylen Brown group, along with at least one Nets draft pick, to make a deal with either Chicago or Indiana. I’d expect those Brooklyn picks to be off the table in any Anthony trade talks, and the Celtics may also be reluctant to give up multiple productive rotation players.
In any case, it’s somewhat premature to get into what a potential Anthony trade would look like, as there’s no guarantee Ainge will change his position. The Knicks clearly have interest in moving the veteran forward and would probably love to bring Boston back to the negotiating table, but it will likely just be one of many options considered by the Celtics this summer.