Why LeBron James’ Cavaliers Nixed A Carmelo Anthony Deal Before He Went To The Thunder

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

For at least the second time in 2017, the New York Knicks tried to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team built around one of his best friends, LeBron James.

And even though New York lowered their asking price significantly, the Cavs once again turned them down.

The Knicks had their sights set on All-Star big man Kevin Love back in January. But before they traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder to form a new super team over the weekend, New York came back to the Cavs with hopes of attaining center Tristan Thompson.

From cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon:

The Knicks wanted Thompson, 26, a center who like James is represented by Rich Paul. The Cavs told them no. Thompson is under contract for three more seasons, beginning at $16.4 million this year. Cleveland was willing to do a deal that would’ve cleared some contracts off the books, such as sending Iman Shumpert ($11 million this year) and others.

Armed with a no-trade clause, Melo was reportedly willing to waive it for a trade to the Thunder, the Cavaliers, or the Houston Rockets.

While LeBron isn’t officially the Cavaliers’ general manager, history suggests the four-time MVP has more than a little say in the franchise’s personnel decisions.

Why wouldn’t LeBron want to add Melo, whom LeBron has said he’d be willing to take a pay cut to join forces with later in his career?

For one, the Cavs need Thompson this season. Save for when LeBron slides up to power forward and turns on the jets in the playoffs, Thompson is easily the squad’s best defender in the paint. Though their chances at another ring have greatly diminished in light of an insane last two offseasons, the Cavs need Thompson’s pick-and-roll defense if they want any shot at a championship in 2018.

Secondly, if LeBron really wants to play with Melo, and the rest of the Banana Boat Crew, for that matter, all he has to do is wait another season.

“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” LeBron said back in March 2016. “At least one, maybe one or two seasons—me, Melo, D-Wade, CP—we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”

With LeBron James rumored to be on the way out when his contract expires at the end of the season, don’t rule out the possibility of these four finding a team with enough cap space and taking steep pay cuts to try and take down the Golden State Warriors.