Melo by the Numbers…
Suddenly the thought of Carmelo Anthony as a Paper Clip at Staples isn’t as unrealistic a thought as it was in the past for me. Even during the 2010 "Melo-drama" I never once believed Melo would want to dwell in the lair of the ogre. If Magic Johnson’s well placed coup is successful and he buys out Donald Sterling, worst owner in sports history… Lifetime Achievement Award Designee, I could see the desire to team up with Chris Paul catching fire again.
I continue to think Melo stays in New York, where he singularly wanted to be. Though, if Phil decides to be Phil and Phil-istines Melo out of Gotham, I was looking at the most reasonable potential landing options. I based the determinations based on Melo signing the "discussed to threadbare" discounted contract. For grins I used the same year 1 starting number of $18,000,000; though I more reasonably believe a number closer to $20mm.
With the news-leaked 2014-15 salary cap numbers of $63.2mm and $77.7 for the luxury tax, Chicago has the simplest and least painful path to securing cap space for Melo. Amnestying Carlos Boozer, trade Tony Snell and Greg Smith for future 2nd round picks or trade exceptions (TPE) and voila, Chicago has $18mm available to sign Melo.
Fly in the Ointment: Because of the 1st Round Picks Chicago owns this year, they may have to secure additional cap space used as cap reserves for the picks; that may cause the Bulls to have to trade Dunleavy.
Pros: On paper, title-contender ready team just missing a go to scorer and doesn’t not have to gut its roster.
Cons: Fragile roster, lots of injuries; based on financial and team decisions is ownership and management truly title driven or are they penny wise and pound foolish?
The Rockets believe they can draw Melo to Houston and I wouldn’t underestimate Daryl Morey’s ability. Trading Omer Asik’s and Jeremy Lin’s $15mm expiring contracts would free up sufficient room to sign Melo, with a few dollars left over to buy the roster matching t-shirts to commemorate the event.
Fly in the Ointment: Morey may find it challenging to trade Asik and Lin and not have to take back any money. Morey did not gain friends with his Asik & Lin high jinks a couple of years back. I doubt NY would have a desire to help Houston out in any way. I also suspect many teams will treat the Rockets essentially as "you made your bed now sleep in it" when it comes to Asik & Lin’s poison pill year 3 dollars.
Cons: Virtually all great players, including LeBron, still needed a veteran "already been there" influence to guide them to their first title; who is that influence on the Rockets? Also, Harden is a truly great guard; but can him and Melo really excel together?
Clips ‘o the Staples
I doubt the whole sordid mess is cleared up in time for the draft and free agency; however, if the league fast tracks Sterlings "not-so-voluntary" retirement from professional sports ownership, the Clippers would actually be able to perform a Sign and Trade to acquire Melo since they are not currently a projected luxury tax team this upcoming offseason. The Clippers could send a package of DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley and whatever else to match up Melo’s salary that The Phil could keep or roll off onto a 3rd team, such as Phoenix, and receive back an $18mm TPE (give or take).
Fly in the Ointment: I do not see The Phil being overly generous or "play nice with others" even if it brings value back to NY that they would not normally get.
Pros: The Clips would have to go shopping for a legit and reliable Center; but the team would be very title ready.
Cons: Team health and similar "by example" leadership to guide the way as a player.