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10 Questions About Carmelo Anthony’s Layover in Houston

Maybe it means nothing, but we still need to know more

(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer Illustration)

Carmelo Anthony will not let free agency die, even though he is not a free agent. After reportedly considering waiving his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavs only, Melo was spotted Thursday on the ground in an airport in Houston.

We have questions.

Why Is Melo in Houston?

Haley O’Shaughnessy: He’s totally meeting with the Rockets. One hundred percent. Or it’s a layover. Probably a layover. Or a NASA field trip. Or visiting the local strip clu — nevermind.

So, Is It a Layover or Not?

Paolo Uggetti: Thanks to some always slightly creepy, but helpful internet sleuthing, Twitter figured out that the tag on Melo’s supposed suitcase signaled that Houston was merely a layover stop on his way to Cabo. Makes sense. Summer is vacation time, and Melo is just making a stop in Houston on his way to some piña coladas and sand between his toes. I can’t really blame him. Have you seen LeBron’s Snapchat lately? He’s living the life in a tropical destination while Dan Gilbert tries to run a basketball team as a summer hobby.

OK Wait, That’s Pretty Coincidental. Is Melo Actually Considering Waiving His No-Trade Clause?

O’Shaughnessy: Yes! We think. Just five days after the Knicks fired their president, a man who publicly lobbied all season for Melo to waive his staying power and get gone, ESPN reported that Melo is suddenly open to leaving New York. So long as the receiving end of a trade is Houston or Cleveland, which is where banana boat buddies Chris Paul and LeBron James are.

What About Dwyane Wade? Wasn’t He on That Banana Boat, Too?

O’Shaughnessy: No one is waiving a trade clause to join the 2017–18 Bulls. (God bless you and the 28 shots you’ll average this season, Zach LaVine.)

Melo Flies Commercial?

Uggetti: But back to the flight for a second. Are there no direct NYC to Cabo flights? (Actually, there are. I checked. But not every day.) What did Melo do during his stop? Could James Harden and Daryl Morey have just happened to stop by George Bush Intercontinental on a random Thursday? More importantly, according to Reddit user htxtx, Melo was spotted on a commercial flight from New York to Houston?

We’ve known Carmelo wants to be a businessman, a tycoon of sorts, and an entrepreneur for a while, but flying public? Is he planning on running for president?

How Much Could Melo Help Houston?

O’Shaughnessy: Look, I don’t know. The Rockets 3s-and-layups-only strategy was going to see some changes after it backfired against the Spurs in the playoffs, but that’s where Chris Paul comes in. CP3 on the Rockets already meant infecting the offense with more habitual midrange. Melo’s a worse deviation (but better percentage-wise): Of everyone in the entire league, he pulled up for the second-most midrange shots last season. Melo took D’Antoni’s detested middle ground and feasted on an average nine attempts per game, by far the most he dabbles in any shooting zone on a given night.

Is Melo Ready to Ring Chase?

Uggetti: He’s 33. He hasn’t made the Finals, and he’s having to put out early-morning workout video tweets to prove he’s still grinding.

There is no shame in this, Melo. We know what you want, so go and get it.

What Does This Mean for the Banana Boat Dream?

Uggetti: Well, nothing. Yet. But if Melo lands in Houston via a trade, not a connection, that’s 50 percent of the Banana Boat team already in one tax-free locale, plus James Harden. Could LeBron potentially take a one-year flyer in 2018–19 just to play with his friends? Wade has already got his Bulls payday on lockdown, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him take a cheaper deal in order to turn the Rockets into the ultimate brotherhood team. I’d sign up to see a Banana Boat superteam battle Golden State superteam in a flash.

Either way, the day this fruit-concocted squad comes into fruition will be a glorious one. I can’t wait.

Can Mike D’Antoni Really Get Over His Past With Melo?

O’Shaughnessy: A MeloDrama In Two Acts:

Act I — "What Goes Around …"

Mike D’Antoni quits the Knicks job in 2012 after Carmelo forces him out.

D’Antoni: "I just went in and quit."

/scene

Act II — "… Comes Around"

D’Antoni gets hired by the Rockets in 2016.

D’Antoni goes 55–27; the Knicks drop 51 games.

/curtain

What’s the Best Possible Return for the Knicks?

Uggetti: Besides already getting rid of Phil Jackson? Probably not much else. One thing the past three superstar trades have taught us (Boogie, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler) is that the value of a superstar on the market is not as high as we think. For an aging player like Melo, the return might be even lower, especially given that everyone knows the Knicks want to rid themselves of him sooner rather than later.

Houston can offer him Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon, while the Cavs have Kevin Love to offer straight up. That hypothetical Houston package is a better one, but it would leave the Rockets’ depth depleted. Bringing in Melo isn’t worth that, even if Daryl Morey is taking a tip from NASA and shooting for the moon.