Adam Kaufman

Carmelo Anthony Open to Being Traded, and Celtics Should Stay Away

Carmelo Anthony 4.jpg

You may want to sit down for this.

According to the New York Post, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony – a mere 21 games into a five-year, $124 million contract that was signed in July – is open to dropping his no-trade clause and moving elsewhere.

I’m kidding; if true, this shouldn’t come as any surprise at all.

The Knicks are off to a franchise-worst start, just 4-20 (which, believe it or not, is only the third-worst record in the pathetic Eastern Conference) after some around the league thought New York might actually contend for a playoff spot. Their schedule the rest of this month likely won’t allow that mark to get any better soon.

Anthony, who’s been dealing with a left knee injury, openly admitted recently that he passed on better opportunities to win with the Bulls and Rockets in order to return to the Big Apple for the money, lifestyle, and business ventures, as noted by New York Daily News writer Frank Isola. In a documentary that aired on MSG this month, he even referred to Chicago as the “perfect” situation, aside from the salary.

Now, in the wake of 10 straight losses entering tonight’s game in Boston and a lively players’ only meeting over the weekend after a reported on-court tiff with teammate Tim Hardaway Jr., the me-first Anthony seems to believe the grass may be greener in another city. So much for that Facebook announcement.

I’m sure I don’t speak for all Celtics fans – maybe not even most – but I sincerely hope one of those suitors isn’t a team in green.

We all remember the discussion around the Hub in June, when the C’s were thought to be courting Kevin Love following his surprise weekend in Boston, trip to Fenway, and “chance meeting” with Rajon Rondo. That evolved into a reported pursuit of a new Big Three locally, featuring Rondo, Love and, yup, Anthony.

Some of us even debated whether second-year head coach Brad Stevens would be interested in acquiring a perceived coach-killer in Anthony.

To many, obtaining Anthony – if possible – was considered to be and likely still would be viewed as a no-brainer around these parts. The touch-hungry veteran is averaging 22.9 points this year and has a career-average of 25.2 points. The Celtics desperately need a finisher on offense to complement Rondo, the NBA’s assists-leader, and there’s little question the pair would thrive on the court, provided their enigmatic personalities were properly massaged.

Rondo would obviously love having another superstar on his side. If C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge got clever with the money in his transactions, he could lock up the All-Star guard long-term in free agency this summer and chase that coveted third-wheel.

But, if we could pump the brakes for a moment, at least remember the Celts’ offense is superior to the 96.2 points it averaged a season ago, when it ranked 26th of 30 teams. This year, albeit only a quarter of the way into the year, Boston is scoring 104.7 points, good for sixth, thanks to a change in philosophy and an emphasis on fast-paced, up-tempo, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later offense.

How many of those less-talented but role-playing contributors and future first-round picks would the Celtics have to deal to land Anthony? Crazy as it is to suggest, his arrival, while great for marketing and PR, might be a detriment to the overall product. It’d be a little much to simply assume Anthony would help transform this club into one that resembled his old explosive Nuggets teams.

Defense, ironically, has been one of the biggest problems this year and the route of most second-half collapses, with the C’s allowing 106.8 points a night to sit 28th. Anthony isn’t exactly a defensive wizard. He’s downright lazy, actually.

Stevens is in the process of putting his stamp on the Celtics and it will undoubtedly take time, even if his team is able to sneak into the postseason with a record well below .500. As it stands, Boston is one game out of the eighth spot, even at 7-13. Aided by Ainge, smart trades for the right pieces and a little luck and success in the draft will help define Stevens’ early NBA tenure.

Anthony is the kind of guy who, history proves, changes the environment. Multiple coaches have been canned on his watch, whether because of him or not, and Derek Fisher can’t be long for the position. Ainge certainly won’t fire Stevens, but the coach’s internal anguish dealing with so many losses after his success at Butler compounded by some private and public drama if Anthony’s track-record followed him might be enough to send him running for a return to the college ranks.

A judgmental, unvarnished, outside perspective: Anthony had the chance in the offseason to prove that, at 30, he had matured professionally to the point of a willingness to share the marquee and chase championships and not dollars. As is his right, he opted for more millions and, in effect, more losses.

Is Anthony thinking better of that decision now? Of course not; he’s frustrated his team sucks. If the Knicks were 12-12 or 10-14, this story wouldn’t have come out. The veteran would be content raking in coin, appearing in ads, prancing around Times Square, and hoping for a playoff round or two.

There’s a difference between being tired of losing versus being terrible while playing for a rookie coach he probably doesn’t respect and with teammates he may not care for, all the while pinning his hopes on a Hall of Fame coach-turned-unproven-executive who is patiently trying to piece the puzzle together.

Putting Anthony on another rebuilding franchise definitely isn’t the answer.

It’s true; Anthony needs a change of scenery or a breath of fresh air. But good things generally don’t follow him, the players around him, or the teams he plays for, and that’s with rare exception been the case since his one title-winning year at Syracuse. Anthony has only been beyond the first round twice in 10 postseason trips.

It will take time for the Celtics to hoist Banner 18. To me, bringing in Carmelo Anthony would extend that wait.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman and email me here.

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