An Unlikely Proposition
Let me preface this by saying one thing: I promise I’m not crazy. I am well aware that the chance of this happening is around 0.001% (or possibly lower), but it is possible. The only reason I’m giving this wildly optimistic 0.001% chance is because of one person: Robert Pera. If nothing else, Pera has recently proven that he wants significant control over what happens with players and personnel (see Dave Joerger wearing a headset). It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Pera is willing to do just about anything to land a superstar in Memphis, especially given that he seems a bit on the eccentric side. If this were to happen, Pera would go from slightly crazy, power hungry owner to the shrewd business man who landed Carmelo Anthony.
So the big question is; why in the world would the Knicks even consider sending Melo to the Grizzlies? Well, the first reason would be that the Knicks realize that they are unable to retain him. This of course would require a sign and trade of Carmelo, or him picking up his player option and being shipped over for only one year guaranteed. There are a few scenarios where this works out for both sides, some of which being more appealing than others, but here are three that work out on paper:
Scenario A: Zach Randolph, Tayshaun Prince, Jamaal Franklin, and 2014, 2016 first round picks to Knicks for Carmelo
Why would the Knicks do this trade? First off, this requires Z-Bo to pick up his player option or sign a longer term deal for a similar amount. New York would probably only want Zach Randolph as an expiring deal, or at a significantly reduced price. They would also be getting Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contract, and a young player on the cheap in Jamaal Franklin. Getting two first round draft picks are also obviously great assets to have.
We also have to consider the Knicks current situation, and the fact that Phil Jackson knows exactly what he’s doing. He knows that the Knicks aren’t winning it all next year even if they have Carmelo. This means that cap space over the next couple of years is essential. He’s locked up Derek Fisher as coach for 5 years, well aware that it will be a couple of seasons before the Knicks contend. Now, let’s assume that Amare Stoudemire picks up his player option at $23 million for next year. You add that, plus the Z-Bo and Prince contracts, and you have another $23 million coming off the books. Then the Knicks have Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani expiring, which makes another $26 million in cap space. That’s a total of $72 million to work with for the ’15-’16 off-season. That is a considerable chunk of change, especially in a big market like New York.
With that kind of cap room the Knicks could target players such as: Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Monta Ellis, Kevin Love (if he stays in Minny for one more year), LaMarcus Aldridge, Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan, our very own Marc Gasol, and many others. I would have to say you could make a pretty solid roster with a combination of those players. Keep in mind they would have $72 million to throw around, which could lock up a few of these guys.
Well, that seems to help the Knicks pretty significantly, but what about the Grizzlies? There is the possibility that we acquire Carmelo for only a year and then cry in a corner when we realize we’ve lost Z-Bo and two first round draft picks. It is also possible that we either re-sign Marc Gasol along with Melo to contend for years to come. Another possibility is that the $15 million coming off the books from Gasol could be used to add other pieces around Mike Conley and Anthony. If that doesn’t work out, and we end up in the worst case scenario of losing both Melo and Marc, then we will have around $38 million freed up for the off-season. Really, any of these options are workable, and would end up being positive in the long run.
Scenario B: 3 Team Trade: Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Ed Davis, and Grizzlies 2014 first round pick to Knicks-Carmelo Anthony, Jameer Nelson, and Kyle O’Quinn to Grizzlies-Quincy Pondexter, Jamaal Franklin, Grizzlies 2016 second round pick (from Raptors) to Magic
I am personally not a fan of this trade, but it could work out for all involved.
The Knicks are getting two of the Grizzlies most coveted assets in Gasol and Conley, which fills their void at point guard and allows them to either trade or reduce the role of aging big man Tyson Chandler, who has struggled with injuries. They will then have cap room the next year from expiring contracts, which will help them surround Conley and Gasol with more talent. They would also have the 22nd draft pick in this years draft to add another piece.
This is a painful trade for the Grizz, but it could potentially work out. They have to re-sign Z-Bo to a cheaper, longer term contract, leaving room for Melo to re-sign. They are getting Jameer Nelson as a stop gap point guard and expiring contract, as well as rebounding backup big man Kyle O’Quinn. The Nelson and Prince expiring deals make about $15 million available, along with the money saved from Z-Bo’s reduced rate. This would leave cap room for next year allowing Carmelo to come back, while also having enough money to surround him with other talent.
The Magic get in on the action to dump Jameer, pick up two young players on the cheap, and get a second round pick in the process. They might also be looking to move Arron Afflalo for other pieces, so this gives them some future wiggle room as well.
This trade looks like the Grizzlies are giving up a lot, but if the chips were to fall in the right place, it might end up being a good deal.
Scenario C: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince, and Grizzlies 2016 first round pick to Knicks for Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Pablo Prigioni
In this situation, both Randolph and Melo are picking up their player options.
The Knicks again fill their void at point guard, while dumping Amare for (potentially) $28 million in expiring contracts (Randolph/Prince/Koufos) plus a first round pick. This allows for the Knicks to continue freeing up salary while already having their point guard of the future locked up.
The Grizzlies of course get Melo, an expiring contract in Amare, and backup point guard Pablo Prigioni. This scenario is probably the least favorable of the three for the Grizzlies, as they are left without a starting point guard, and would have to get one in free agency. They would, however, end up with a lot of cap space for next year and possibly be able to retain Carmelo while surrounding him with talent.
What does it all mean?
It means that there is still only a 0.001% chance of anything happening, BUT if it were to happen, these might be some likely trade scenarios. It would be incredible for a small market team like Memphis to acquire a superstar such as Carmelo, but doing it in a way that keeps the Grizz a contender would prove difficult. I would personally hate to see Z-Bo leave, but if it meant having a core of Conley, Carmelo, and Gasol (as well as adding the other Gasol?), I have to admit I’d be intrigued. Nothing is impossible, although this is pretty damn close. What it comes down to is that we will have to wait and see what direction the Grizzlies want to go. Pera has proven to be a bit erratic as of late, so hopefully the new GM can come in and steady things out a bit. Whether or not Carmelo is an option for Memphis is to be determined, and although highly unlikely, you never know with Robert Pera.