This Carmelo Anthony-to-the-Cavaliers thing is just not going to go away. The Cavs have leaked extensively that they are not planning on trading Kevin Love for the Knicks star. The Knicks, meanwhile, are a slotted spoon, dripping information to anyone who will listen about their intentions to trade him and the interest the Cavs, along with the Clippers, have in him.
On Monday night, though, the New York Daily News, what you would call a Knicks-sourced publication, reported that there is a voice in the Cavaliers locker room pushing for the Cavs to pull the trigger on a Love-Anthony deal: LeBron James himself.
According to a league source, LeBron is the one pushing the Cleveland Cavaliers front office to acquire Carmelo even if it means trading Kevin Love, which is something Cavs management is opposed to doing. Jackson is hoping to move Anthony prior to the Feb. 23 trading deadline and one player the Knicks have targeted is Love, who had 23 points with 16 rebounds in Cleveland's win over the Knicks last Saturday.
Any deal for Anthony would require the Knicks' leading scorer to waive his no-trade clause and the consensus is that Anthony would agree to play for the defending champs and his long-time friend LeBron.
Anthony, of course, is a close personal friend of James; they've been buddies since before the 2003 NBA Draft where James went No. 1 and Anthony third. Love has had a roller-coaster history with the Cavs. He struggled to adapt his first two seasons with Cleveland, but after David Blatt was fired and Tyronn Lue took over, the Cavs actually started using him correctly.
He wound up having a terrific playoffs and made the key defensive lock on Stephen Curry in Game 7 of the NBA Finals as the Cavs completed the greatest comeback in NBA history.
This season, Love has been sensational. He has the highest differential in net points per possession between on court and off court of any player on the Cavs, including James. That's not to say he's more valuable, but the Cavs are at their best this season when Love is on the court. He's rebounding like he was in Minnesota, and using his size in mismatches, then punishing bigger defenders with his range.
Even his defense has been not-bad.
But James has a personal bond and trust with Anthony and that could supercede things. On the other hand? The only person to recruit Love to re-sign with the Cavaliers on a five-year max deal in 2015 was James, who met him at a pool in L.A. and convinced him to re-up. Is James going to do that, and then push him out, when he's having his best season with the Cavs? Love hasn't been the problem for Cleveland, and given their needs (play-making, offensive flow, rim protection, defense), Anthony solves none of their actual problems.
Note how the Cleveland media outlets all say the Cavs are not going to give up Love, and then a New York paper suggests that LeBron wants it, which could destabilize things. Always remember, kids: Information is leaked at the trade deadline for a reason.
However, you can bet this is going to be a story all three will be asked about it in the coming days. Until the trade deadline passes, this is going to be life for the Cavaliers, James, Love and Anthony.
UPDATE 10:59 p.m.: The Cavs came out in force against this rumor. First the team leaked to ESPN and Fox that it was not true:
UPDATE: A team source told ESPN on Monday night "there is no substance to any of that" in regards to the report.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 7, 2017
According to person w/knowledge of situation, LeBron NOT pushing Cavs to trade Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 7, 2017
And then the man himself addressed the rumor post-game, calling the report "trash."
That's about as strong of a response as you can make, and it was the right thing to do. That report basically indicates that James doesn't support Love, who helped win him a title, and James takes his relationship with his teammates very seriously.
The report didn't make much sense. That's not to say it wasn't valid, it's very likely someone on the Knicks' side is telling this story. But the Cavs' are steadfastly pushing a different narrative. We'll never know what the truth is, but James deserves credit for coming out and leading like this to squash something that could put Love on an island. Love led the Cavs with 39 points and 12 rebounds in a win over Washington Monday night.