If you follow the NBA chances are that you’ve heard about the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony and his woes with the New York Knicks as of late. It would appear that the Knicks organization is trying to give Melo a hint that they really don’t want him around anymore, and conversations are growing more serious as the trade deadline approaches. Why don’t the Knicks just trade him, you ask? Well, Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract meaning the only way he’s leaving New York is if he decides to waive that clause. Melo has stated that his family is happy and settled in New York, but he’s also stated that he’s open to waiving the no-trade clause if the Knicks front office tells him they want to part ways. You can be sure the only way he’s agreeing to that is if the right situation presents itself.
If Anthony does choose to move on, there are three organizations that would make a good destination for him which include the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Clippers, and Chicago Bulls. The overarching reason behind each of these three teams being a good fit is largely the same. Melo is an incredible athlete, and will likely be a Hall of Famer once all is said and done. However, he never has been–and never will–be a leader. But listen, that’s okay! Before I go into what his strengths are and how he fits well into these three organizations let’s all take a moment to get real. Melo likes to shoot, and Melo likes to score. Melo likes to be the center of attention, and therefore he hesitates to share the ball. To be frank….Melo loves him some Melo.
Basketball legend Bill Russell has said, “The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.” Statistically, Anthony puts up huge individual numbers, but regularly does so in losing efforts. He doesn’t make others around him play better and therefore he’s not a leader. The sooner he comes to grips with that, the sooner he can find a fit to complement his skill set in the right way.
So let’s look on the bright side. Melo puts up impressive numbers almost every game. Surely there’s a team out there who can use that talent. The trick is to get him on a team who has a very strong player-leader in place who Melo can submit to and respect. Interested teams will have to quit trying to make him something he’s not and allow him to focus his energy on what he’s good at.
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers
Reports say that Anthony has already mentioned being willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland. LeBron James, shaping up to be one of the best leaders the NBA has ever seen, has a firm hold on his team and has an impressive track record of success—to say the least. James has recently made mention that he would like to see more play makers on the Cavs roster so it’s possible Anthony would fill that role nicely. It’s probable that James carries the clout to garner Anthony’s respect and allegiance, and adding a fourth powerhouse for numbers could qualify Cleveland as a super team in their own right. Cleveland sits at number one in the East with the Warriors at number one in the West. A LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony combo might be one entertaining matchup against the Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson regime. Statistically it’s fun to think about, but practically it would only work if Anthony falls in line and relinquishes his crown for King James to reign.
#2 LA Clippers
It’s also been rumored that Anthony has expressed interest in a move to Lob City to play with Doc and his Clippers. The Clips are struggling a little right now with Chris Paul out until March. Blake Griffin has recently returned from his own injury but it hasn’t been enough yet. The Clippers could really use Melo’s numbers right now to keep from slipping in the ranks, and Paul is another player-leader who has the ability to rally Anthony around the Clippers’ team goals. While not as decorated as James, Paul also has a track record of success and he is no doubt the recognized leader of the Clippers organization. With Griffin and Paul back and healthy, Melo could help with a shooting presence while Griffin and DeAndre Jordan do their thing under the rim. These four together could also petition as super team contenders.
#3 Chicago Bulls
Moving away from the super team discussions, I think Chicago could also be a very nice fit for Anthony. This third scenario would put Anthony in a rebuilding organization, but if you think about it, Dwyane Wade and Melo together could be a great combination. Wade is certainly basketball royalty, and carries a resume that boasts multiple championships as a strong team leader. It’s been rumored that Chicago is looking to part ways with Jimmy Butler and Melo would fill Butler’s absence well under the guidance of Wade. Melo does like the spotlight, and Wade has shown he can still lead from behind while his teammates get more attention. This situation could be just what Anthony needs to unlock his full potential.
Overall, it’s important to make the distinction between someone who leads a team in scoring, and someone who collectively elevates their teammates to the next level. In the next couple weeks the Melo drama will come to an end (for this season at least), and hopefully we get to see both Melo and the Knicks organization in the right situation. Even if that means they aren’t together anymore.