Carmelo Anthony‘s no-trade clause gave him the power to approve a deal to specific teams, and for most of the offseason, the only team on his wish list was the Rockets. In an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (link via Ian Begley of ESPN), Anthony confirms that he believed earlier in the summer that a trade to Houston was all but finalized.
“A deal was done with Houston early, then for some reason – whatever happened behind the scenes – it didn’t go through, it fell through,” Anthony said. “Then we had to really start paying attention and thinking about other options.”
According to Carmelo, another deal – one that would have sent him to the Cavaliers – nearly got done on draft night, back when Phil Jackson was still running the Knicks (link via Begley). That proposed trade would have landed both Anthony and Paul George in Cleveland, Carmelo said today.
Based on various reports, it sounds like the Knicks and Rockets came closest to a deal right before New York hired Scott Perry as the team’s new general manager in July. At that point, the Knicks put trade talks on hold as Perry got acclimated to his new job and assessed the Anthony situation himself. Ultimately, the Knicks and Rockets never found common ground after that, and Anthony admits he had been preparing last week to show up for Media Day as a Knick.
“Me and my team sat down on Friday night and were like, ‘Man, we best prepare for going back to Media Day on Monday and training camp that week,'” Anthony said. “And then we got the call that said, ‘Would you open it up to OKC?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, at this point, yeah.’
“I don’t think it would have been beneficial for me to come back to Media Day after everything that was going on in the offseason,” Anthony continued. “For me to have to deal with that it would have been unfair for the organization, the Knicks, to have to deal with that. It would have been too much noise, too many questions to answer and I don’t think either party wanted to deal with that.”
While Anthony seems happy to have landed in Oklahoma City, it will be interesting to see whether the trade – and the non-trade to Houston – will have an impact on the Western Conference playoff picture next spring. The Thunder and Rockets faced each other in the postseason in 2017, and if they do so again next year, Anthony would be squaring off against the team he was all but certain he’d join.