Phil Jackson made it clear he will turn every stone in an effort to trade Carmelo Anthony this summer. The Boston Celtics could become a potential suitor.
Jackson has long been interested in Jae Crowder, since the years he played for the Dallas Mavericks, and was upset he didn’t acquire him when he was available in the Tyson Chandler trade. Crowder “would be a major player of interest,” according to The New York Post’s Marc Berman, for Jackson in a deal involving Anthony.
Boston’s coaching staff was in favor of a trade-deadline deal for the Knicks’ All-Star forward, per Berman. But team president Danny Ainge was not interested in a trade, citing Anthony’s contract and its implications on Boston’s cap flexibility this summer.
With the Celtics down to the Chicago Bulls 2-0 in their first-round playoff series, that rhetoric may have changed.
The Celtics also have a bevy of young players and draft picks, including swap rights with Brooklyn, who own the best odds at the No. 1 overall pick.
Anthony has two more years on his contract worth $53 million. The soon-to-be 33-year-old forward averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, shooting 43 percent from the field for the Knicks, who missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
He has a 15 percent trade kicker that increases the sum of his deal to around $60 million, and he holds no-trade clause and must sign off on any deal before his trade.
It is unclear if Ainge will move on from Crowder in exchange for Anthony.
In trade talks with both the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler and the Indiana Pacers for Paul George, two All-Star forwards each younger than Melo, Ainge was reluctant on giving up Crowder, his hard-nosed, versatile defender and three-point shooter.
Jackson said he wants a “significant player” in return for any deal involving Anthony. The Celtics also have Marcus Smart, rookie Jaylen Brown, and second-year guard Terry Rozier as rotational players.
Boston would also need to renounce its expiring contracts — Amir Johnson ($12 million), Tyler Zeller ($8 million), Jonas Jerebko ($5 million), Gerald Green ($1.4 million) — to fit in Anthony’s contract.
Adding an offensive weapon to a team with defensive deficiencies could prove counterintuitive, but Boston needs star power to get over the hump, and Anthony could be a realistic option when the trade market reopens.