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Rumor: Carmelo-to-Boston could happen this summer

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It’s not even July and the New York media is already churning out trade rumors.

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the rumor from Marc Berman of the NY Post:

According to an NBA source, the Celtics coaching staff was in favor of trading for Anthony at the trade deadline, but general manager Danny Ainge had too many reservations. One of Ainge’s concerns, according to a source, was an Anthony trade would have given Boston no real cap space to work with for the 2017 free-agent class.

This seems much ado about nothing. With the Knicks out of the playoffs, what is else is there to talk about? The recently lost a coin flip to the Timberwolves for draft position, Kristap Porzingis skipped his exit interview (but later pledged his love for the city but not necessarily the team), Anthony is in the middle of a break-up, and they picked up the option on Phil Jackson’s rich contract.

So, here are the particulars: Jae Crowder could be part of the deal, Melo’s final guaranteed year of $26M+ (with a player option for 2018-2019) could be absorbed into Boston’s cap space if they renounced the rights to several free agents, and Ainge would most likely have to include some of their 2017 second round picks.

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a crazy idea. Ainge will most likely renounce the rights to Tyler Zeller, Amir Johnson, Gerald Green, and Jonas Jerebko anyway to open up a max-ish slot to pursue free agents this summer. If he strikes out on players like Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, Anthony could be a viable stop gap as the team looks to contend in the immediate with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart still under bargain contracts.

However, the larger issue is Melo’s fit. As Berman reports, Brad Stevens and the coaching staff were willing to take on the future Hall of Famer, but it was Ainge’s hesitation at the deadline that killed that potential deal. But not with free agency on the horizon and the price presumably lowered as Jackson publicly admits that the Knicks and Melo are heading towards an eventual split, Danny could test the market first and later decide to cut a deal.

First things first, the Celtics have Game 3 in Chicago as they look to bring this series back to Boston. Based on Ainge’s comments on Thursday, it doesn’t sound like a first round exit or an extended run in the playoffs will drastically change his July plans. Brad Stevens isn’t on the hot seat. Ainge knows he has to make improvements to the roster, starting with the Brooklyn pick in the draft and free agency a few weeks later. This is still a rebuild in process and while Phil and the Knicks would rather jump start theirs by getting rid of Anthony, the Celtics have learned over the past four years that patience is a virtue and that the best trades are sometimes the ones you don’t make.