Examining How A Carmelo Anthony Trade Could Work

The Thunder have talked to the Nets about a possible trade involving Carmelo Anthony, according to Mitch Lawrence of Forbes and The Sporting News, who reports (via Twitter) that Brooklyn would be looking to move Jeremy Lin in such a deal. The Nets, who would want draft picks, would buy out or waive Anthony if they acquired him, Lawrence adds.

While it may be true that the Thunder and Nets have explored a potential trade, it’s hard to see how it would work with Lin as the primary outgoing piece. After buying out Dwight Howard, the Nets reportedly have a little less than $11MM in cap room available, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to match Anthony’s $27.93MM salary, since salary-matching rules only apply to over-the-cap teams. Still, they’d have to send out more than Lin’s $12.5MM expiring contract in order to remain under the cap after completing a deal.

The Nets could create a little extra space by waiving Isaiah Whitehead, who has a non-guaranteed $1.54MM salary, but they’d still be about $4MM short of having enough outgoing salary to complete a Lin-for-Anthony swap while remaining under the cap.

The Nets players who earn less than Lin are youngsters with positive value, so the team wouldn’t simply throw them into an offer to make the money work. Adding a highly-paid vet like Allen Crabbe or DeMarre Carroll wouldn’t make much sense from the Thunder’s perspective, since their goal is to cut costs.

On top of all the cap-related roadblocks in the way of a potential swap, Brian Lewis of The New York Post notes (via Twitter) that Lin has been told the Nets will tell him if they plan to trade him. As Lewis relays, Lin hasn’t gotten a call at this point, so if there have been trade discussions, they likely haven’t gotten serious.

“My agent called me just to clarify,” Lin told Lewis. “But no, I don’t think there’s any… I don’t think that has any truth to it.”

While a Thunder/Nets swap seems like a long shot, we know that Oklahoma City is exploring potential trade options involving Anthony before simply buying him out or waiving him. The Lin example is instructive for laying out how a potential deal could work.

Although no team has the cap space necessary to absorb Anthony’s contract outright, the Nets and three other teams – the Kings, Bulls, and Hawks – have enough room to send out significantly less salary than they receive. That makes them potential trade partners for the Thunder, who are looking for ways to reduce a potential record-breaking tax bill.

For instance, the Kings are currently about $19MM below the cap. That means they could trade a player like Iman Shumpert ($11MM salary) to Oklahoma City and take back Anthony without going over the cap. That would be ideal for the Thunder, who could waive and stretch Shumpert across three seasons and create an annual cap hit of about $3.67MM instead of the $9.31MM annual cap charge that waiving Anthony would create (assuming neither player gives back money in a buyout). The tax savings for OKC in 2018/19 would be massive, and the smaller annual cap charges would help reduce the team’s tax bills in future seasons too.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Stretch Provision]

So what would be in it for the Thunder’s trade partners? They wouldn’t be hanging onto Anthony, who has a no-trade clause and almost certainly wouldn’t approve a trade to a non-contender unless he knew he’d be waived shortly thereafter. So presumably any team willing to talk trade with the Thunder would be seeking draft picks and/or young players along with Carmelo.

The problem is that Oklahoma City isn’t exactly asset-rich on either front. Terrance Ferguson is really the only intriguing young prospect on the Thunder’s roster, and the team’s 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected) is committed to Orlando.

The Stepien rule prevents teams from trading back-to-back future first-round picks, so the Thunder wouldn’t be able to trade their 2019 first-rounder outright, and would have to get creative with conditions in order to trade any other first-rounder before 2022.

It’s possible that 2022 and 2024 first-round picks would entice one of those teams with cap room to use up the rest of their space on Anthony, only to subsequently waive him. But the further in the future those picks are, the less they’ll appeal to current general managers, who have no assurances they’ll even still hold their jobs by 2022 or 2024.

One intriguing option would be for one of those teams with cap room to trade a multiyear contract to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony. That way there would be a little more incentive for OKC’s trade partner to make a deal, since that club would be clearing cap room for future free agent periods. It also wouldn’t necessarily hurt the Thunder, who could spread the player’s money across more than three seasons using the stretch provision if he’s on a multiyear deal.

Omer Asik of the Bulls would be a perfect target for the Thunder in this scenario. Asik is earning $11.29MM in 2018/19, then has a $3MM guarantee on his 2019/20 salary. If the Thunder acquire him, they could stretch his remaining guaranteed money ($14.29MM) across five seasons for an annual cap hit of just $2.86MM.

The Bulls, meanwhile, would be able to clear $3MM from their books for the summer of 2019 — that’s not a huge amount, but if the team wants to be players in free agency next year, that added flexibility could come in handy. Of course, from Chicago’s perspective, including a contract like Cristiano Felicio‘s ($24MM over three years) in such a deal would probably be preferable to moving Asik’s.

Another way for the Thunder to increase trade interest in Anthony would be to attach its 2020 first-round pick with reverse protection. The 2020 selection traded to the Magic will only change hands if it falls between 21 and 30, so OKC could theoretically send that pick to another team if it lands in the top 20.

Given the lack of teams with cap room around the NBA and the dearth of appealing assets the Thunder could attach to Anthony, a trade ultimately seems unlikely. Simply waiving and stretching Carmelo would create upwards of $90-100MM in tax savings for Oklahoma City, and that number could increase if the veteran forward accepts a buyout. That’s probably where we’re headed, as interesting as the trade scenarios are to consider.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

newest oldest

32 thoughts on “Examining How A Carmelo Anthony Trade Could Work

  1. Tommy313

    Pistons trade Blake for melo. Pistons get out of that horrible contract and can let melo shoot 30+ times a game.

    0
    0
    • Lol that wouldn’t save the thunder any money. Although they would have a fun team to watch.

      0
      0
    • brewpackbuckbadg

      This would only be good if the Pistons include Darko for obvious draft day memories. Pistons might have to sign Darko to a one day contract. : )

      0
      0
  2. bennyg

    The kicker is, as good as it all sounds, Melo STILL has a no trade clause so he would have to be willing to accept such a scenario also

    0
    0
    • Luke Adams

      Well, my assumption is that any trade would come with an agreement that the team acquiring him would waive him so he could become a free agent.

      0
      0
    • msglenn2581

      melo has already waived his no trade clause as reported earlier.

      0
      0
      • bennyg

        Oh has he, I was not aware of that.
        If that’s the case, trade him to the highest bidder

        0
        0
        • Steve

          I seriously doubt any team is willing to offer much outside of smaller bad contracts or take Melo for a future Thunder first round pick. Either way Atlanta is an easy fit. Atldaily suggest that OKC just lessen their tax hit by dealing uombto Atlanta and taking Bazemore or Plumlee in return. OKC doesn’t have a first in 2020, so they can’t deal their 2019 fist round pick.

          0
          0
  3. clubberlang

    With the NBA being a 1 Horse show, I find the off-season significantly more interesting than the actual games and playoffs.

    1
    0
  4. afsooner02

    I don’t see how getting any players back helps the thunder. If the pure intent is to shed salary how is getting any players and contracts back better than a buy out?

    0
    1
    • Luke Adams

      Because waiving and stretching a player who makes $10MM would save them way more money than waiving and stretching a player who makes $28MM.

      2
      0
  5. Curtisrowe

    It is amazing how much press Melo still gets. He is probably about the 40th best forward in the NBA at this point. That wouldn’t be that bad, except he thinks he is top 10.

    That’s a problem.

    2
    1
  6. radiohead801

    No way in hell Bulls want him taking shots away from the young players. Screw him.

    0
    0
    • brewpackbuckbadg

      They would buy him out and get draft picks.

      0
      0
    • toby312

      Bulls lemming leaders garpax are dumb enough to want him

      0
      0
  7. W&S Melo cuts his cap charge by 18.6 mm down to 9.3 mm (prior to any buyout reduction in advance of W&S). Since more than half of the 150 mm in tax they will hypothetically owe results from the last 15 mm of their projected payroll, getting that 9.3 mm (or less via buyout) number down has less value than the first 18.6 mm. I think it’s not going to be worth a 1st round pick unless it almost all goes away or the contract(s) they take back are small and usable to fill slots they’ll need to fill anyway. Lin would still keep 4.1 mm on payroll vs the 9.3 mm. OK, nice, reduce payroll by additional 5.2 mm (and 12-13 mm in tax maybe). But they have other expiring contracts they can trade and/or stretch and get to the same place without giving up a 1st. They’re prepared to be a large taxpayer (maybe the largest ever), just not an insane one. W&S Melo, plus some housecleaning, accomplishes that and, if they like, a little more. This is an expiring deal, not a long term albatross which seems to be the paradigm that’s being used.

    0
    0
    • Luke Adams

      The impact that stretching Melo would have on future seasons has to be considered too. OKC’s already at about $125MM for just seven players in 2019/20, before taking into account an extra $9MM+ for stretching Melo, plus filling out the rest of the roster. Now that they’re into the repeater tax, the penalties will be more punitive than ever for every year they stay in the tax, so they’d be getting significant savings for two or three years for every little bit they can reduce that $9MM+ annual Melo hit.

      0
      0
  8. Djones246890

    Who cares? It’s not like any of this matters, anyway. The Warriors already have the championship locked up.

    Until the NBA figures out how to fix this mess, this league gets more uninteresting and boring, by the day.

    They have to stop allowing superstar players from being able to sign deals that are only worthy of mediocre players. ((((cough))) DeMarcus Cousins ((((cough)))).

    Initiate a fair market player evaluation/appraisal, and mandate that they cannot sign for below that market value.

    I know it isn’t perfect, but at least it’s a start.

    0
    1
    • xdrta

      So if no one wants to sign them for your supposed fair market value, they just have to sit home on the couch. That makes a lot of sense.

      0
      0
  9. toudi

    Nobody is stupid enough to trade for him although I wish someone was :p

    0
    0
  10. Steve

    As a Hawks fan, if you believe the roomer that upper management wanted Tra Young because of his box office appeal, a trade for Melo + a first with his box office appeal should be in line. The Hawks wouldn’t need to waive him right away, he could actually be given the chance to play himself into a better situation.

    0
    0
    • Bryzzo2016

      As a person, like most, that couldn’t care less about the Hawks, I do know that they’re really bad at basketball and probably don’t need an expensive, over the hill vet.

      Also, there is a *RUMOR, that *TRAE Young makes a lot less money than Melo.

      Finally, I doubt Melo would want to play with a sure fire lottery team at this stage in his career, he would expect and want to be bought out so he can be a ball stopping, volume shooter with a contender. I don’t care how desperate the Hawks are to sell tickets, they don’t want Melo anymore than Melo wants them.

      0
      0
  11. cesc

    Man who cares which team wins, what if GSW wins the next 2-3 years, do you just watch a whole year of basketball to see who wins the championship? In that case just watch the last game of the finals, it will save you countless hours. I watch it for all the entertainment, the highlights, the great plays, the drama… so many reasons man, one of the least of them all is who wins it all at the end.

    1
    0
  12. Codeeg

    I really want IT and Melo on the same team. It’d be amazing watching two players who think they’re much better than they are because they can shoot 20+ times a game.

    0
    0

Leave a Reply