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Carmelo Anthony trade rumors: Rockets “turning full attention” to acquiring Melo

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: Carmelo Anthony
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 27: Carmelo Anthony
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The Houston Rockets goal for the remainder of the offseason will be to acquire Knicks star Carmelo Anthony

Now that the Houston Rockets have signed James Harden to a monstrous, record-breaking $170 million contract extension, they can turn their focus elsewhere. They’ve already found a target. The Rockets front office is now turning their full attention to acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst.

After signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a somewhat head scratching four-year, $71 million deal, the Knicks are even more willing to work with Houston in a deal where they can unload Anthony. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks cannot imagine Hardaway and Anthony sharing the floor together at the start of the season.

Carmelo has already stated that he will waive his no-trade clause in order to join either Houston or Cleveland. Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are friends, and so are LeBron James and Melo. Both Houston and Cleveland are contenders and at 32 years old, Anthony realizes that his window is closing.

Houston’s GM Daryl Morey said the Rockets prefer to go after members of Team USA, per the Houston Chronicle.

“Not only do you need the USA Basketball team members to win games, you need them to go get and convince P.J. Tucker to take less money than other teams are offering,” Morey said at Toyota Center. “It’s a huge, huge factor to winning in today’s NBA.

Related Story: The Houston Rockets Want More Players from Team USA Basketball

Obviously, Melo is still a very good player, capable of dropping 35 points on a given night. Last season, he averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. Adding him alongside CP3 and The Beard will give the Rockets a legitimate big-3 and a good mix of scoring, passing and shooting.

Why haven’t the Rockets and Knicks agreed on a deal yet?

A Houston-New York deal for Carmelo doesn’t come without its difficulties. The Rockets are already $15 million over the salary cap and Anthony is owed $54.2 million over the next two seasons, including $26 million next season. To complicate matters further, Anthony will also be owed an $8.1 million trade kicker, which is a contract clause that increases a player’s salary in the event of a trade. In that case, Houston would have to trade away an additional $8 million in 2017-18 salaries to acquire him. Melo could waive the trade kicker, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he did, at least if he wants to play for a winning team.

The good news is while Houston does have $114 million worth of committed salaries for next season, about $5 million below the luxury tax threshold, Cleveland has a staggering $137 million worth of committed salaries. While it may be hard for us to put together a package for Melo, Cleveland is even less likely to have a compelling deal for New York. Also, the Knicks want younger assets in return but Cleveland has mostly older players and Kyrie Irving is likely untouchable.

Houston would likely include Ryan Anderson in a deal for Melo, who has a $19.6 million salary. He’s already 29 years old with a large salary, which could make New York apprehensive to close on a deal with Anderson included.

Next: Houston Rockets: How Would Carmelo Anthony Fit?

The Knicks obviously want to move on from the Carmelo-era, and they are unlikely to put together a better deal with Cleveland. The Rockets chances of landing Melo are looking better and better as the days pass by.

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