The Houston Rockets are preparing to intensify their efforts to trade for New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony after signing James Harden to a four-year contract extension Saturday.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported the Rockets are "turning full attention" to working out an agreement with the Knicks to complete their own superstar trio with Harden, Anthony and Chris Paul, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers last month.
Anthony has remained with the Knicks despite a seemingly endless stream of rumors about his potential availability in recent seasons as New York struggled to reach expectations.
In April, Marc Berman of the New York Post noted the 33-year-old small forward said he’d "love to stay" with the Knicks but would listen if the organization wanted him to waive his no-trade clause.
"Just communicate with me and be up-front with me," Anthony said. "I’m open."
Wojnarowski previously reported Melo is willing to accept a deal to the Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers.
The biggest questions for Houston are whether the front office could make a deal work under the salary cap and if another primary ball-handler would fit alongside Harden and Paul.
Spotrac notes the Rockets are about $14.5 million over the cap, and Anthony is scheduled to make $26.2 million next season in the final guaranteed year of his deal. So they would need to create a trade where the overall salaries are a close match.
Meanwhile, Harden and Paul are two players who operate best with the ball in their hands. Trading for Anthony would raise serious concerns about whether three players in that mold could successfully coexist.
But it’s a situation where the league’s "superteam era" is forcing contenders to make big splashes in an effort to catch up with the Golden State Warriors. So, while making a deal for Melo would come with risk, it’s one Houston probably must take to emerge as a possible threat to the Dubs.