Melo To The Rockets 5-Team ClusterFuck Trade Idea

Teams Involved:

 

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Rockets:

Trading:

  • Ryan Anderson (3 Years, $19.6 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Tim Quarterman (1 Year, $1.3 Million Cap Hit Non Guaranteed)
  • Shawn Long (2 Years, $1.3 Million Cap Hit Non Guaranteed)
  • Houston’s 2020 Lottery-Protected First Round Pick 
  • Houston’s 2022 Second Round Pick

Receiving:

  • Carmelo Anthony (2 Years, $26.2 Million Yearly Cap Hit)

 

What’s there left to say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over regarding Melo to the Rockets? Personally, I only like his fit with the Rockets if he is Ryan Anderson‘s replacement rather than replacing both Eric Gordon & Trevor Ariza.

The reasoning is simple, Melo’s offensive boost to the Rockets isn’t worth losing one of their best defensive players in Ariza in addition to the 2016-2017 6th man of the year in Gordon.

Meanwhile, Melo’s defensive shortcomings are no worse than Anderson’s and there’s absolutely no debating that Melo is a much better & more versatile scorer than Anderson. He’s also a better rebounder with a career 6.6 boards per game (5.9 last season) compared to Anderson’s career mark of 5.4 (4.6 last season) despite being listed 2 inches shorter (6’8″ vs 6’10”) and being playing much less at the bigs positions (4 & 5). If that wasn’t enough, I see Melo as a much better fit at the 4 compared to the 3 at this stage of his career.

 

Knicks:

Trading:

  • Carmelo Anthony (2 Years, $26.2 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Courtney Lee (3 Years, $11.7 Million Yearly Cap Hit)

Receiving:

  • Evan Turner (3 Years, $17.1 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Brandon Knight (3 Years, $13.6 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Portland’s 2018 Lottery-Protected First Round Pick
  • Houston’s 2020 Lottery-Protected First Round Pick 

 

This really is best case scenario for the New York Knickerbockers in my opinion. First and most obviously, they come away from this deal with 2 first round picks while actually shedding roughly $7.2 million off of their cap.

Secondly, they rid themselves of Courtney Lee, a mediocre shooting guard & decent spot up shooter at best who had become the lesser/older between the Knicks’ pair of redundant & expensive players  following the puzzling Tim Hardaway Jr. signing.

Hardaway & Lee are both off-ball wings with nearly identical effective field goal percentages both for their careers (Lee 53.3% vs THJ 53.7%) and for last season (Lee 51.6% vs THJ 51.4%). The difference is Hardaway Jr. is 25 while Lee will be 32 before the season begins with 3 more years left on his deal.

As for the players coming the Knicks’ way in this trade, I believe both Evan Turner & Brandon Knight are the perfect level of mediocre. Both are good enough to relieve pressure off the Knicks young/developing players while still being bad enough to keep New York in rebuild mode rather than the dreaded limbo.

In other words, this deal leaves them  competing for a top 3 to 5 pick in the draft rather than finishing in the dreaded 9th-12th place range which would be the case if they were to go for a deal with better NBA-ready talent but perhaps less (or even no) future assets.

Beginning with Turner, he gives the Knicks a player capable of starting at the 3 for them, a position that would be left with essentially Lance Thomas and only Lance Thomas with Melo on his way out the door. While he doesn’t provide much in the form of shooting, Turner gives the Knicks a starter outside of just Porzingis capable of playing at least adequate NBA-caliber defense, which is more than we can say for Thomas.

As for Knight, he would be a perfectly adequate if not underwhelming placeholder at the starting point guard position for recent 7th overall pick & European teenager Frank Ntilikina.

There’s no denying Knight had the worst season of his career in 2016-2017, posting career lows in fg% (.398), ppg (11), games played (54), mpg (21.1), 3pt % (.324), effective fg% (.441), true shooting % (.502), rpg (2.2), apg (2.4) & spg (0.5). So basically he averaged a career low in pretty much everything.

With that being said, who’s to say Knight won’t benefit from a change of scenery leading to a significant increase in production/effectiveness? It wouldn’t be the first time that would happen to a player joining a new team in an increased role. And if it doesn’t work out, who cares? It’s not like the Knicks are competing for anything at all this season.

The way I see it the addition of Brandon Knight should fall between the follwing 2 extreme scenarios. The (perhaps unrealistically) optimistic one is that he raises his level of play in this new environment enough to give the Knicks a valuable trade deadline asset.

The other scenario is that Knight remains a poor point guard which would further help the Knicks in acquiring a high draft pick (that should be their priority). Sure the 3 years with a $13.6 million cap hit remaining on Knight’s deal might look ugly if he continues his 2016-2017 production, but would it really be that much worse than the 6-years-older-than-Knight Courtney Lee’s identical 3 remaining years with only a slightly smaller cap hit? I sure don’t think so.

Milwaukee Bucks:

Trading:

  • Spencer Hawes (1 Year, $6.1 Million Cap Hit)
  • Mirza Teletovic (2 Years, $10.5 Million Yearly Cap Hit)

Receiving:

  • Ryan Anderson (3 Years, $19.6 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Miami’s 2021 Second Round Pick via Portland

 

While the Bucks were a surprisingly decent three point shooting team this season in terms of percentage as they shot 37.0% fro deep which was good for 10th in the NBA. that stat is a little misleading. Milwaukee simply did not shoot that many threes in the 2016-2017 season which is evident when looking at their 23.7  three-point attempts per game that ranked 7th lowest in the league.

Combined, Mirza Teletovic & Spencer Hawes nailing a total of 113 threes (2.0 made on 5.8 attempts per game) at a rate of 34.1% for the Bucks. Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson drained nearly twice as many threes as Teletovic+Hawes with 204 (2.8 made on 7.0 attempts per game) paired with a 40.3% rate good for 2nd among all power forwards in the NBA for the 2016-2017 season.

In addition, from a purely roster-makeup perspective, by replacing 2 bigs with 1 offensively superior big the Bucks open up more minutes at the 4 for the promising but raw (young?) Thon Maker. Albeit a small sample, 9.9 minutes & 1.3 3pt-attempts per game to be exact, Maker showed some promise in terms of his floor-stretching ability shooting 37.8% and could benefit from ~18-22 minutes per game and about 14-17 minutes per game following Jabari Parker‘s eventual return from injury.

While opening up some low-pressure minutes for the young guys, Anderson also can serve as a more than adequate starter that can help make the Bucks feel more comfortable not rushing Jabari back into action prematurely while being able to easily slide into a 6th man role upon Parker’s comeback.

 

Portland Trail Blazers:

Trading:

  • Evan Turner (3 Years, $17.1 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Portland’s 2018 Lottery-Protected First Round Pick
  • Miami’s 2021 Second Round Pick

Receiving:

  • Spencer Hawes (1 Year, $6.1 Million Cap Hit)
  • Mirza Teletovic (2 Years, $10.5 Million Yearly Cap Hit)

 

A scenario like this is terrific for Portland. They simultaneously receive useful bench talent in Spencer Hawes & Mirza Teletovic while still shedding Evan Turner‘s contract, saving roughly $6.6 million (before the luxury tax) in 2018-2019 & a whopping $17.1 million in 2019-2020 that could very well get them under the luxury tax line at which point that $17.1 million would translate to nearly $40 million.

Giving up a lottery-protected first & a second kind of hurts the future a little but that’s the minimum cost of shedding a bad contract in today’s NBA. Compared to the Raptors’ Demarre Carroll salary dump, where Toronto gave up a first & second without receiving anything in return but Justin Hamilton who they cut, this hypothetical deal is downright brilliant for the Trail Blazers.

 

Phoenix Suns:

Trading:

  • Brandon Knight (3 Years, $13.6 Million Yearly Cap Hit)

Receiving:

  • Courtney Lee (3 Years, $11.7 Million Yearly Cap Hit)
  • Tim Quarterman (1 Year, $1.3 Million Cap Hit Non Guaranteed)
  • Shawn Long (2 Years, $1.3 Million Cap Hit Non Guaranteed)
  • Houston’s 2022 Second Round Pick

For the Suns, this trade essentially comes down to a Brandon Knight for Courtney Lee swap. With the emergence of Devin Booker & Tyler Ulis paired with the already established Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix simply had no room or role for Brandon Knight on their roster.

While both Knight & Lee have 3 years remaining on their deal, the difference is Lee is a better off-ball player, something they lack compared to the plethora of ball-dominant guards that were just mentioned.

Lee is also capable of playing some small-ball 3, meaning he would serve as a backup to both Booker & the newly acquired phenom Josh Jackson. Should Jackson struggle early on, Lee is even capable of stepping into the starting lineup for the still-rebuilding Suns if they prefer his spacing over TJ Warren (26.5% last season from 3 & 31.2% for his career).

On that note, spacing was definitely an issue for the Suns last season as they ranked 27th (4th worst) in 3-point percentage with a lowly 33.2% & 28th (3rd worst) in 3-point attempts with a measly 22.6. A shooter like Lee, who shot 40.1% from 3 this passed season & 38.6% for his career, could really help give relieve some the Phoenix’s spacing and specifically 3-point shooting issues.

As for Tim Quarterman (22) & Shawn Long (24), they were both undrafted rookies last year & are both on non-guaranteed contracts. This means that the Suns could either choose to rid themselves completely of the two young players with no repercussions or they could choose to keep one (or both) of them if Phoenix sees a use for Long or Quarterman on either the NBA or G-league roster.

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