The Houston Rockets have long been the rumored destination for Carmelo Anthony this summer and it appears that move may be officially consummated before too long.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Anthony will join the Rockets once he officially becomes a free agent. However, it may take a while for Anthony reach that status because the reported three-team trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers has yet to even take place. Anthony is expected to be released by the Hawks once the trade becomes official.
The deal sends guard Dennis Schroder from the Hawks, which drafted him 17th overall in 2013 and who has been Atlanta’s incumbent starter the last two seasons, to the Thunder for Anthony and a Lottery-protected (1-14) 2022 first-round pick. In addition, forward/center Mike Muscala was re-routed from Atlanta to Philadelphia through Oklahoma City, which will receive former first-rounder Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from Philly. The 76ers will send third-year wing Justin Anderson to Atlanta to complete the deal.
Here's more from Stein on Anthony's next move and how another trade the Sixers are eyeing may happen first:
Carmelo Anthony is planning to sign with the Houston Rockets upon clearing waivers in coming days, according to two people with knowledge of his plans.
Anthony is unlikely to become a free agent before next week at the earliest because his pending trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks could take several days before it is officially completed, according to the people, who insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the trade publicly.
But the three-way deal that also features the Philadelphia 76ers has been agreed to and is lined up to be executed after Philadelphia makes another roster move. The sharpshooter Kyle Korver of the Cleveland Cavaliers is among the players Philadelphia is known to be pursuing via trade before completing the three-way deal with Oklahoma City and Atlanta.
The Hawks have pledged to release Anthony once the trade is complete, according to the people, which will allow him to earn next season’s scheduled $27.9 million salary — as stipulated by the original five-year contract he signed with the Knicks in the summer of 2014 — and then sign with Houston upon clearing waivers. He is expected to receive a one-year deal from the Rockets at the league’s veteran minimum salary of $2.4 million.
Rockets star James Harden and GM Daryl Morey recently expressed confidence that the team would add Anthony sometime this summer.
Speaking at separate functions, Kia NBA Most Valuable Award winner James Harden and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey both said they believe Anthony would be a good addition to a team that was one win away from reaching The Finals.
According to For The Win, a Q&A session with fans on Instagram for his team’s esports organization, Clutch Gaming, Morey was asked, “So we for sure getting Carmelo Anthony?”
Morey responds, “In the mix.”
When asked, “Does Daryl still have something up his sleeve?”
Morey shot back a “Yes”.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden said at an event in Houston believes getting Anthony would benefit a team.
"It would be a great acquisition for us," said Harden, who did run into Anthony at Paris Fashion Week last month when Harden was making the rounds with teammate P.J. Tucker. "Melo's a proven vet. He just wants to win at this point, so it would be great for him to be on our team. The current roster we have now, we've got good guys back and we keep making forward progress."
Harden also responded to changes on the team, as it lost key defensive players in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. The Rockets signed former Kia Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and forward James Ennis.
"That's a part of the business but like we do every single year, we've got to find a way," Harden said. "Whatever guys we sign, be ready to come in and play good minutes and we'll take it from there. I have all the confidence in the front office and the coaching staff and the players that we'll have on the roster."
The 34-year-old Anthony had been the headliner his entire career -- he’s 19th in NBA history with 25,417 points -- but he was more of a catch-and-shoot scorer last season instead of the isolation specialist he had always been. He averaged 16.2 points per game, but struggled at times in his new role. His playing time dwindled in the playoffs and he wasn’t happy. In Game 6 of the first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz that ended Oklahoma City’s season, he played fewer minutes than backup Jerami Grant.
* Aldridge: Anthony one step closer to Houston now
After the season, he said he prefers to play with the ball in his hands more and said coming off the bench is “out of the question.”
“So it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball,” he said.
Schroder, a 24-year-old guard from Germany, has played his entire five-year NBA career with the Hawks after they selected him with the No. 17 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Thunder are eager to add Schroder's speed and ball-handling ability to the mix with All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Hawks wanted to move on from Schroder following the smattering of moves they made with their backcourt this summer.
Muscala, also drafted by Atlanta in 2013, brings size and shooting to Philadelphia. The 6-foot-11 forward/center averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20.0 minutes and shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range last season. His presence could help replace the production of forward Ersan Ilyasova, who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks during free agency.
Luwawu-Cabbarot is two years removed from being selected with the No. 24 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The lanky guard averaged 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 15.5 minutes for the 76ers last season.
Anderson is a four-year NBA veteran after two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and two with the 76ers. He played in just 38 games for Philadelphia last season. He was selected by the Mavericks with the No. 21 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.