With the NBA trade deadline fast approaching, two names that have been at the center of NBA trade rumors include both Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler. Though both stars are contributing to their respective teams, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony are attempting to captain sinking ships, as the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are headed for lottery land, with records of 26-26, and 22-31 at the time of this writing (good for 7th and 12th in the Eastern Conference, respectively). While it’s true that the Chicago Bulls would make the playoffs if the playoffs started today, with the current roster they have, and with the current trajectory they’re on, even if they did make the playoffs, they wouldn’t get very far.
On the New York Knicks side of the ball — particularly as it relates to Carmelo Anthony — Carmelo Anthony still has the no-trade clause as part of his contract, which essentially means that the only way that Carmelo Anthony leaves the Big Apple is if Carmelo Anthony decides to. That said, according to comments made recently by Charles Barkley, Barkley believes that the New York Knicks President of Basketball Operations (Phil Jackson) is on a mission to tank the team to such a degree that Carmelo Anthony will choose to waive his no-trade clause and leave of his own accord. Phil Jackson is trying to “piss Carmelo off,” according to Barkley.
When Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the New York Knicks two years ago, there was a belief at that time that, if Carmelo Anthony didn’t re-sign with the Knicks, his second option was the Chicago Bulls. Ultimately, Carmelo Anthony chose a bigger paycheck over a new team, and that, in turn, has resulted in two-and-a-half abysmal seasons in the Big Apple.
It seems, however, that Carmelo Anthony’s second choice from two years ago could still be on the table, as the Chicago Sun Times reported that Jimmy Butler called Anthony a few days ago, in what was a “catch-up” call, according to Butler. While there seems to be no evidence of any hard recruiting on the part of Butler, it’s hard to imagine two superstars not talking shop, even during a “catch-up” call between friends.
Ultimately, as things currently stand, both the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks are headed for either lottery land or an early exit from the playoffs (which is actually worse than not making the playoffs at all in terms of draft position) unless something gives. It seems that Phil Jackson is pulling the strings behind the scenes to make staying in New York as unattractive an option as possible for Carmelo Anthony, and, in that regard, Phil Jackson has done a great job. While no one has made tanking an art form (and a winning business model) quite like the Philadelphia 76ers in recent years, the Knicks are essentially tanking just as badly, but without any of the lucrative lottery picks to make it all worth it.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls’ 7th slot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture is in no way indicative of just how bad the season has gone for the team. With a record of 26-26, the Chicago Bulls are exactly even in the win and loss column at the time of this writing, and their trajectory is likely to sink further down as the season progresses. While Jimmy Butler is a highly sought after acquisition for numerous teams as this year’s February 23rd trade deadline approaches, the simple fact that Jimmy Butler has reached out to Carmelo Anthony may hint at the possibility that Jimmy Butler wants to stay in Chicago and bring pieces to him, rather than take his talent elsewhere.
Either way, this will be something to keep an eye on as the NBA trade deadline approaches, and you can bet that NBA trade rumors are only going to heat up as things get down to the wire.
[Featured Image by Patrick Smith/Getty Images]