Carmelo Anthony is wanted again. After an entire season of then–Knicks president Phil Jackson telling him he doesn’t belong, Melo is feeling love from the Rockets, his own Knicks again, and the Blazers. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are courting the 33-year-old. The latter posted this Instagram photo of Melo in a Blazers uniform on Sunday —
— which technically isn’t considered tampering by the NBA in the same way a ball that’s caught in the NFL sometimes isn’t technically considered caught. (Dez caught it). On Wednesday, the backcourt duo said they both reached out to the New York forward directly about joining them on the other coast.
"If we added Carmelo," McCollum said on a SiriusXM NBA Radio interview, "we’ll be a top-three team in the West immediately." The 2-guard then corroborated his own statement, tweeting "Facts" in response to his own quote. (Which, yeah! Pretty sure that’s how confirmation in the news works now.)
"I think he’s interested," McCollum said on the show. But Adrian Wojnarowski, who appeared on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday, reported otherwise, saying Portland is "not something Melo’s considering."
Carmelo has indicated he will consider waiving his no-trade clause only for Cleveland or Houston. Because of his contract specifics, he does have final say. Woj also said that he’s been leaning away from the Cavs recently. Considering the — borrowing from Kyrie Irving directly here — "peculiar" state of the organization, Cleveland is becoming less desirable. With all the rumors of LeBron James being unhappy, heading to Ohio makes little sense for Carmelo if his friend is considering options elsewhere when his contract expires next summer.
Therefore Houston looks like the most likely destination, and the two franchises were communicating last week about a possible trade. But New York has since reportedly tried to convince its (non-unicorn) centerpiece to stay.
Melo has no banana-boat connections to Portland, but a fierce backcourt paired with Jusuf Nurkic has to be more appealing than his current situation. Adding the veteran would be the first remarkable offseason move for the Blazers, who are stuck between $43 million in luxury tax payments and a hard place.
With $143 million in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2017–18 season — the new salary cap, you’ll remember, is just $99 million — Portland needed to spend its summer offloading bad contracts onto other willing participants. But the closest they’ve gotten to a big acquisition is an Instagram post.
The Blazers’ front office is reportedly trying to deal Meyers Leonard by becoming a third-party participant in a Melo trade from New York to Houston. But Lillard and McCollum had a better idea: Let’s just do the trade straight up. Of course, that’s impossible so long as Carmelo is uninterested. But with the Houston talks seemingly stalled, this might be Portland’s last chance at a big roster move.