As New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry pursue a meeting with Carmelo Anthony in the coming days, league sources tell ESPN that team officials will find a 10-time All-Star player counting on the franchise to carry out its previously agreed upon mandate to trade Anthony to the Houston Rockets.
Whatever stance a post-Phil Jackson front office is taking now, Anthony, 33, has continued with an expectation that the Knicks will soon resume talks to honor the franchise's longstanding goal to rebuild without Anthony, league sources said.
Anthony has been willing to waive his no-trade clause for Houston and Cleveland, but in recent weeks he has begun to prioritize a trade to the Rockets to join Chris Paul and James Harden over the Cavaliers and LeBron James, league sources said.
With Perry's hiring from Sacramento and the promotion of Steve Mills to president, the Knicks have paused those trade discussions, in part, New York's been unhappy with the recent proposed returns on an Anthony deal, league sources said.
As Perry starts to shape the front office and impact policy, another realization has washed over the organization too: That the months of organizational harping on Anthony, driven largely by deposed President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, has dramatically devalued Anthony's trade value. Mills and Perry are evaluating whether there's a window of time worth trying to rebuild Anthony's standing around the NBA -- as opposed to trading him with it at an all-time low, league sources said.
The Knicks realize that the odds are long of convincing Anthony to simply turn back on trades talks and accept a return to New York, especially given how aggressively deposed President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson had pushed to run Anthony out of town. If it was Jackson primarily responsible for going to great lengths to publicly shame and discredit Anthony, it was not only Jackson within the franchise that Anthony and his camp knows played a part in the campaign.
Because Anthony didn't come easily to the acceptance of waiving his no-trade out of New York, no one should expect that he will easily shift mindset back about staying with the Knicks beyond the summer.
Perry has history with Anthony, strong relationships with some in Melo's inner-circle, and it makes sense for Perry to spend time this week surveying the depths of the damage and distrust left in Jackson's wake. It is undoubtedly deep, perhaps irreparable, but Anthony has two years, $54 million left on his contract and there isn't much that he can do if the Knicks decide to bring him back for the start of the season. And of course, just deciding that you're willing to trade Anthony doesn't make it easy to to do.
Houston and New York have pursued constructs of deals, but those are harder to maintain in place with the Knicks retreating indefinitely on talks.
One of the teams that New York and Houston had hoped would facilitate a multi-team trade for Anthony - the Portland Trail Blazers - only plans to participate in a deal for Anthony if he decides to expand his no-trade clause to include the Trail Blazers, league sources told ESPN.
Outside of Golden State, Portland believes that the addition of a player like Anthony would furnish them with the comparable talent and depth to the top Western Conference contenders, league sources said. Because of that, the Blazers have little, if any, inclination to facilitate an Anthony deal that would land him with a Western Conference rival like Houston, league sources said.
Houston is determined to complete a deal for Anthony and believe that he's only focused on playing with the Rockets next season, league sources said. For now, trade talks have stalled, and the Knicks are re-evaluating everything again. One more Knicks hierarchy inherits Carmelo Anthony and wonders: What do we next?