If Jimmy Butler is recruiting Melo, here are some trade ideas for Bulls, Knicks

When Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the New York Knicks two years ago, a lot of people wondered why he didn't go with his second choice in free agency, the Chicago Bulls. Anthony had met extensively with the Bulls and was close to joining Chicago. But he wound up taking the money, suffering through 2 1/2 terrible seasons, and is now the source of constant trade rumors as he and Phil Jackson play out a game of chicken.

Anthony's no-trade clause means the Knicks can't send him anywhere they could get real assets for him, and the cities he wants to go to are thin on assets to send back. (Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers aren't exactly a pretty penny for a multiple-time All-Star.) But there may have emerged a new suitor that could drastically alter the landscape of this MeloDrama 2.0. Those same Chicago Bulls. From the Chicago Sun Times:

Jimmy Butler talked to Carmelo Anthony three days ago.

It was a "catch-up'' call, according to Butler on Wednesday.

What it should have been was a recruiting call, letting Anthony know that he's still welcomed in a Bulls uniform if he goes ahead and waives that no-trade clause to escape New York. Don't, however, rule out Butler making that call soon.

"That is half the battle,'' Butler said, when discussing making a player from another team feel welcomed. "And I could still do that. I think everybody knows what Carmelo can bring to a team. The dude is a helluva player.

"But I think that we have some things that we've got to worry about here first in the next few weeks [leading into the trade deadline], before we go down that road.''

Source: Butler is all for helping his front office add Carmelo Anthony - Chicago Sun-Times.

So to kind of read between the lines here, Butler talked to Melo but didn't explicitly recruit him, but is totally willing to do so. And it's hard to imagine that Butler really just called Melo to "catch up" with him. That timing is just too suspicious, even with Butler and Anthony having gotten to know one another on Team USA.

Could Melo join Jimmy Butler in Chicago? USATSI

If the Knicks and Bulls could actually get something going ... this could be a boon for both teams. The Bulls need a floor spacer and a spark to their season. Dwyane Wade and Melo want to play together. Chicago is a big enough city for his wife, LaLa, to feel at home and to cater to his big-city preferences. Chicago is a playoff team, would be even better with Anthony, and Anthony fits a need for them. Meanwhile, the Knicks could get back veterans, picks and assets. This would work perfectly.

So of course it probably won't, on account of either the Bulls, Anthony or Phil Jackson screwing it up.

Here's an idea on a deal:


So it removes Rajon Rondo, and the Knicks get Taj Gibson -- a guy who actually helps you win and can play next to Kristaps Porzingis -- along with Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis. It guts the Bulls' young depth, but they retain Doug McDermott and Cristiano Felicio. The Bulls would send the Sixers the remaining rights to the Kings' first-round pick, ensuring that no matter where Sacramento falls, they get the Kings' pick this year. The Sixers can also either ride it out with Rondo, who is at least a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA, or waive him for nothing. They are just facilitating here.

The Knicks ideally would want a pick here, but bear in mind where the market is. The Knicks are looking at Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. This deal is a Godsend for them, if the Bulls would agree to it.

An alternative:


The Nuggets also send the Memphis Grizzlies' unprotected first-round pick to the Knicks. New York adds a hustle-junkie player in Kenneth Faried who MSG would love, and gets back the hyper-versatile Wilson Chandler, who's frustrated with his minutes in Denver. The Bulls pick up a rim protector to replace Robin Lopez, along with Melo, and the Nuggets get a defensive power forward to play next to Nikola Jokic and Lopez fits perfectly as the big man they need off the bench. You can even experiment with Lopez and Jokic together, which shouldn't be as much of a disaster as Nurkic and Jokic were together.

We'll see if anything comes of it, but it's very interesting that with two weeks to go before the NBA trade deadline, Butler has suddenly taken such an interest in Melo's well-being.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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