Houston Rockets: Why letting Carmelo Anthony go was a good move

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images /

The decision to not trade for Carmelo Anthony was a wise one for the Houston Rockets.

The longest and most complicated drama of the NBA offseason ended with a surprising finale. The New York Knicks decided to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It was a deal that no one really saw coming. Of course, Carmelo Anthony’s preferred team over the summer was the Houston Rockets, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum made their best pitch to convince Melo that Portland was the perfect fit for him, but that deal was always seen as a long shot.

In a last-ditch effort, the Rockets and Cavaliers made an offer to New York for Anthony, but Oklahoma City’s package turned out to be the winner. Although, it isn’t all bad for Houston. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks wanted two of the Rockets’ best role players.

New York had been willing to do an Anthony deal with his preferred choice, Houston, that included Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza, but the Rockets consistently rejected that idea, league sources said. Houston had become the focus of Anthony’s trade request after the Rockets acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul, a close friend, in late June. But Houston needed a deal to include forward Ryan Anderson, who has three years and $60 million left on his contract.

The Rockets made the right decision.

For the New York Knicks to agree on a deal with the Rockets, they wanted a package including Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza. But this deal wouldn’t work out financially for the Rockets. Carmelo Anthony is owed $26 million in the upcoming season. Gordon and Ariza’s combined salary comes out at about $20 million.

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Since Houston is slightly over the luxury tax threshold of $119 million, the Rockets would have to send out more salary to take on Anthony’s massive contract. In layman’s terms, the Rockets would have needed to include an additional player to complete the trade.

The Rockets offered a deal around Ryan Anderson, as they have in the past, but the Knicks weren’t interested. And Houston refused to part ways with both Gordon and Anderson.

It’s unfortunate that the Rockets and Knicks couldn’t come to terms on a trade deal, but the Rockets made the right decision to hold their ground. While Carmelo can still play a large role on a contending team, he isn’t the same player from four or five years ago.

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Gordon is Houston’s best 3-point shooter, and Ariza accepts the nightly challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best wing player. Carmelo Anthony can’t fulfill either of those roles any better than Gordon and Ariza can, even though he comes with a higher price tag. For those reasons, the Houston Rockets made the right choice.