Carmelo Anthony

6 possible trade targets for the Sixers

6 possible trade targets for the Sixers

The Jimmy Butler trade leaves the Sixers with an empty roster spot and Elton Brand acknowledged Tuesday that he’s not done yet (see story).

Here are a few trade options that would fit.

Kyle Korver

We all know Korver’s deal by now. He’s one of the most prolific three-point shooters in NBA history and the team he’s playing on is a dumpster fire. The Cavaliers need to move him and the question will just be price. Nobody is giving Cleveland more than a second — maybe multiple seconds and a prospect that hasn’t quite hit (think Furkan Korkmaz).

It's no surprise the Sixers have been linked to Korver for a reunion. He's 37 and he’s limited athletically but he’ll give effort on defense and is also a smart enough basketball player to make up for those limitations. And he can definitely still shoot. 

Carmelo Anthony

Nope.

Markieff Morris

The Philly native was brought up in a report along with fellow Wizards Jeff Green and Kelly Oubre Jr. Of the three, Morris is probably the most attractive fit for the Sixers. Morris can you give minutes at the four and at the five. Amir Johnson played three minutes Monday night and is struggling.

Brett Brown talks about playing "Philly tough" so who better to provide that than a tough dude from Philly? Morris is also a pretty solid offensive player. He’s a very good mid-range shooter and while he’s not a sharpshooter, he can make the occasional open three. It would be fun if he eventually had to face his twin brother Marcus in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Courtney Lee

Lee has been mentioned as a possibility for the Sixers since he’s an expiring contract on a bad team. He’s a solid defender with excellent basketball instincts. He’s shot over 40 percent from three in three of the last four seasons. 

Lee would be a phenomenal fit here, if he can recover from the neck injury that has kept him out this season. He’s obviously not a star but he can do a little bit of everything, including two things the Sixers desperately need more of: shot create and shot make. If you’re looking for a more diverse solution than Korver, Lee could be it.

Trevor Ariza

There have been no indications that the Suns will look to move on from Ariza and his one-year, $15-million deal, but it could make sense to allow their younger players to play. I bet the struggling Rockets would love to have Ariza back.

Ariza is an elite on-the-ball defender that can guard one through four. He takes a ton of threes but has hovered around the league average percentage wise. He’s 33 but looks like he has plenty in the tank. Plus his playoff experience would be a huge asset for a young Sixers team.

Vince Carter

Yes, Vince Carter is still playing basketball. Long gone are the days of Vinsanity but the 41-year-old can still fill a complementary role. The Hawks signed Carter to be a positive influence on their young players and they may choose to keep him for that reason.

For 15 minutes a game, Carter can still bring something to the table. He can score on all three levels and still create his own shot from time to time. He’s shooting 37 percent from three this season and can play solid defense. As far as experience, the resume speaks for itself.

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Carmelo Anthony stuck in the middle of Rockets' problems

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Carmelo Anthony stuck in the middle of Rockets' problems

The Houston Rockets were a team that, just six months ago, looked destined to win Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and perhaps the NBA championship.
 
At 10:24 p.m. ET on May 28, the Rockets were up 58-47 on the Golden State Warriors with 8:49 left in the third quarter, with an 82 percent chance to reach the Finals. Then, came 27 consecutive missed 3-pointers. By 11:24 p.m. ET, Houston was down nine with seconds to go. All that was left was the final buzzer.
 
It took one hour for the Rockets’ season-long title quest to go up in flames. It might’ve taken one offseason for their championship window to burn up, too.

Life comes at you fast. And in today’s NBA, it seems faster than ever. 
 
In July, the Rockets lost defensive stalwarts Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute through free agency and replaced them with journeyman James Ennis. They re-signed Chris Paul and Clint Capela to the tune of $250 million. To top it off, they signed Carmelo Anthony, who was dumped by two teams, and then traded away their best 3-point shooter last season in Ryan Anderson in a salary dump. And then they lost out on the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes.

At 5-7 with a bottom-10 point differential, this Rockets team is in disarray, with many pointing the finger at Anthony. 

On the whole, Houston has hemorrhaged 111 points per 100 possessions to opposing teams with Anthony on the floor, according to NBA.com, which would rank 24th in the league as a whole. That’s a bad number, but it has improved to 100.5 in November. Anthony’s defense, as flat-footed and inattentive as it might be, is not the reason the Rockets are in trouble.

To blame this all on Anthony would mistake the NBA for a scripted drama with a clear antagonist and a tidy plotline. Reality isn’t so simple.

* * * * *

At 34 years old and turning 35 in May, Anthony is already older than plenty of Hall of Famers when they hung it up for good -- names like Tracy McGrady, George Gervin, Isiah Thomas and James Worthy. Every Hall of Famer reaches a point in their career when they can’t hang anymore. We’ve just about reached that point with Anthony.

Melo showing his age is hardly a surprise considering the additional tread on his tires. He’s already logged more career minutes than guys who played into their 40’s such as Steve Nash, Dikembe Mutombo and Juwan Howard. Anthony in his current form is barely worth a roster spot. He’s become a caricature version of the high-volume shooter he was in his prime. Anthony has five assists in 294 minutes, or one out of every 59 minutes on the floor, giving him one of the lowest assist rates in NBA history for a non-center. 

That kind of ball-stopping might be acceptable if he made winning contributions in other areas of the floor. But that’s never been Anthony’s game. For instance, Al-Farouq Aminu almost never collects an assist, but his rebound and steal numbers are almost double that of Anthony’s, not to mention he’s vastly more efficient from the floor. Anthony misses more shots per game (7.2) than Aminu actually takes (6.8).

A chorus of NBA players have tweeted in support of Anthony lately. It’s nice that players are sticking up for Anthony publicly, but their actions on the court speak volumes.

Consider the scene in Anthony’s return to Oklahoma City. After Melo bricked a 3-pointer, the Thunder, who were up 77-57 at the time, went out of their way to expose him. Dennis Schroder brought the ball up in transition as the TNT broadcast went to a split-screen, the game action in one window and the OKC bench in the other. 

Russell Westbrook, who wasn’t in uniform, was shown repeatedly screaming “MOVE!” and maniacally motioning for everyone to clear out like a train conductor warning people on the tracks. Westbrook wanted Steven Adams to get Anthony on an island in the post.

The Thunder followed Westbrook’s command as Adams caught the pass from Schroder, backed down Anthony a few times and got a clear look at the basket. Adams missed, but the point was made. Westbrook was seen giggling in delight with the rest of the Thunder’s reserves as his former teammate was singled out over and over again in the post, in isolations and on pick-and-rolls.

* * * * *

After a weekend of rumors that Anthony was about to be waived for the second time in four months, Houston GM Daryl Morey stood in front of reporters on Sunday and tried to jump on the grenade.

“One of the reasons I’m here, besides it’s 10 games in, about, is I think there’s just a lot of unfair-like rumors and everything going around about him,” Morey said of Anthony. “He’s been great with us. As Coach [Mike D’Antoni] said yesterday, his approach has been great. He’s accepted every role Coach has given him -- starting, off the bench, whatever it’s been.

“We’re struggling as a team, and it’s my job, it’s Coach’s job to figure this thing out. But from Guy 1 to Guy 15 -- and I’ll put myself in there; a lot of this is on me right now. -- we’re not playing well.” 

Morey has a point. And so do all the NBA players -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Damian Lillard, just to name a few -- who have tweeted in solidarity with Anthony, a ten-time All-Star and three-time gold medalist for Team USA.

This isn’t all on Anthony. Melo is a problem. He’s not the only problem.

Holy cow, the Rockets’ offense has been horrendous. This is not the case where Anthony’s chucking has ruined James Harden and Chris Paul’s well-oiled offense. In fact, the Rockets have tried desperately to separate Anthony from their star duo. Anthony has played with Paul-Harden duo on just 37 of his 294 total minutes this season, a tiny portion of just 12 percent. Last season, the Thunder took a totally different approach, slotting Anthony next to Westbrook and Paul George for 1,976 of his 2,501 minutes, almost 80 percent of his action.

That separation could be a point of contention in Houston. Paul has referred to Anthony “as a brother,” but they’ve hardly played together. In the short time Paul and Anthony have shared the court, the defense has been comically bad, but the offense has actually been more productive than Harden and Paul’s play without their Team USA pal. With Harden and Paul on the court together, the Rockets are scoring 104.3 points per 100 possessions this season. Last season? That figure was 117, per NBA.com/stats. Again, that can’t be pinned on Anthony.

And that gets us to the real issue in Houston -- the Rockets can’t hit a shot, ranking dead-last in field-goal percentage. Paul is having by far the worst shooting season of his career, while Harden is shooting just 39.3 percent on 11.7 isolations per game, per Synergy tracking, down from his 44.3 percent conversion rate last season. He has missed more shots on isos (51) than Orlando (46), Dallas (45), Miami (41) and Philadelphia (32) have taken. In related news, the Rockets’ offense has sunk to 23rd in the NBA. That hardly has anything to do with Melo being Melo.

It may be fun to giggle at Anthony, but I wonder if the basketball world is mistaking him for Eric Gordon. 

Gordon is making $11 million more than Anthony this season and shooting a horrific 32.2 percent from the floor and a ghastly 23.1 percent from deep. In an alternate universe, Gordon is playing well and being used as a trade piece to land Jimmy Butler (too late). In reality, the oft-injured Gordon is burping up a 7.7 PER with another $14 million owed to him next season. (Gordon was reportedly the center of the Rockets’ final trade proposal for Butler, but the Timberwolves turned it down for Philly’s package, per The Athletic’s reporting). 

If you’re a Rockets fan, Gordon, and not Anthony, should be the target of your November disappointment because strong early play could have netted Butler. Anthony was never going to be that guy.

When nearly $30 million of your cap is soaked up by Gordon and Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played in 21 months, that’s a much larger issue than a 34-year-old player who is shooting no worse than the rest of the team. So why have all the memes been reserved for Melo? 

* * * * *

The Rockets may have been the league’s best chance at toppling the Warriors, but that seems like a real long shot now. 

Houston is reeling, Boston is struggling and Cleveland is on pace to be the worst team ever after LeBron’s departure. At this rate, there will be three new conference finalists next to Golden State. 

In fact, we’ve never really seen a defending Conference Final field be this mediocre in a long time. Golden State (11-2), Boston (7-6), Houston (5-7) and Cleveland (1-11) are a combined 24-26 (.480), making this the worst reigning Conference Final field since the NBA went to Conference Finalists in 1971.

Few people know how quickly a championship window can close more intimately than Morey. In 2014-15, the Rockets reached the West Conference Finals with Dwight Howard and lost Games 1 and 2 by a collective five points, losing the series in five games. They went 41-41 the next season, fired Kevin McHale after 11 games and let Howard walk in free agency that summer. 

Hitting the reset button this time around won’t be as easy. Paul is one month into a four-year, $160 million commitment by the Rockets, one that will pay him through his age-36 season. If the NBA is a real-life Game of Thrones, the Rockets may never get closer to the Iron Throne than they did six months ago. Speaking on the Woj Pod in October, Morey admitted that championship windows aren’t open for long.

“It’s fragile,” Morey said. “I mean, winning’s fragile."

Source: Sixers will acquire Mike Muscala, send away Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson in 3-team trade

Source: Sixers will acquire Mike Muscala, send away Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Justin Anderson in 3-team trade

The Sixers were involved in a trade with Carmelo Anthony.

Exhale, Sixers fans, Anthony is not coming here. Instead, Anthony is being shipped to the Hawks — who will likely waive the veteran forward — with a 2022 protected first-round pick for point guard Dennis Schroder, according to a report Thursday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Sixers in turn will send Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Thunder and Justin Anderson to the Hawks to acquire Atlanta’s Mike Muscala, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania first reported the Sixers' side of the deal.

The move makes sense for the Sixers on a couple fronts. After missing out on Serbian forward Nemanja Bjelica, who reportedly agreed to a deal with the team and then backed out, Brett Brown gets a player with a similar skill set in Muscala. The former Bucknell star has great size (6-foot-11, 240 pounds) and the ability to shoot (37.8 percent from three for his career).

It also makes sense from a roster standpoint. The team had a bit of a logjam on the wing and had 16 players for 15 roster spots. By losing two players and getting only one back, the Sixers are now at 15 players under contract. That also includes Jerryd Bayless, who will likely be bought out or stretched, but does not include 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden or 2018 second-round pick Shake Milton.

Muscala had a career year for the lowly Hawks. He averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes a game — all career marks. He also hit 37.1 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts. A second-round pick by the Mavericks in 2013, Muscala has spent all five of his NBA seasons in Atlanta.

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