New York Knicks: Cap space the biggest hurdle in Carmelo Anthony trade

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Carmelo Anthony
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Carmelo Anthony /

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded. Unfortunately, all three of his preferred destinations have the same issue: Limited cap space.

Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded, and the New York Knicks are open to the possibility of dealing the 10-time All-Star. That sounds simple enough, but the sum of that equation isn’t quite what it seems.

Due to the fact that Anthony has a no-trade clause and a short list of teams that he’s willing to be dealt to, one word has defined the inability to move ‘Melo: Money.

In a salary-capped league, trading players with max contracts is both uncommon and bordering on impossible to do. Even if a team is willing to take on the financial burden, there are only so many combinations of contracts that can make the numbers line up.

That’s proving to be the case with the Anthony sweepstakes, as all teams involved are bordering on incapable of acting on their respective interests.

Anthony’s list of preferred destinations has expanded to three teams. Those franchises are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, and Oklahoma City Thunder—fringe contenders that could challenge the Golden State Warriors with a motivated ‘Melo.

As pointed out by front office insider Bobby Marks of ESPN, however, the Thunder would need to clear $21 million in cap room in order to acquire Anthony—and it’s hard to imagine them doing so.

Not only would Oklahoma City need to clear significant space in order to acquire Anthony, but it would need to consider the possibility of Anthony opting in to the final year of his contract.

That figure of $27.9 million is one that could haunt Oklahoma City—and that would be after Sam Presti hypothetically worked his magic to make the numbers line up for 2017-18 alone.

It’s possible that Oklahoma City could flip Enes Kanter and either Alex Abrines or a combination of rookie-scale players in order to clear up cap space. New York may not view that as fair compensation, however, which inevitably brings the conversation back to the obstacle: Money.

Marks’ most recent comment on the matter further established that this issue isn’t limited to Oklahoma City; Cleveland and Houston are in the same predicament.

Cleveland could move Kevin Love, and Houston has been shopping Ryan Anderson, but much like Kanter, they don’t make much sense for New York.

For all of the talk that the Knicks are a dysfunctional organization, they’re one of the few teams with two quality young big men in place. By general consensus, Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez are starting-caliber players with star potential.

Adding Anderson, Kanter, or Love would offer a short-term upgrade, but an unwillingness to do so would mean Cleveland, Oklahoma City, or Houston would need to get creative.

With limited cap space and an even shorter list of attractive assets, none of the three potential trade partners project to be able to acquire Anthony without the introduction of a third team.

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In turn, the New York Knicks may end up with Carmelo Anthony on the roster come opening night.