League sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Knicks have approached the Cavaliers to gauge their interest in swapping All-Star forwards, but they were told that Cleveland is not interested in such an exchange.
The Knicks, sources said, would have gone to Anthony to discuss waiving his no-trade clause had Cleveland shown interest in the deal. Anthony is one of only three NBA players with a full-no trade clause in his contract, alongside Cleveland’s LeBron James and the Mavericks‘ Dirk Nowitzki.
On multiple occasions in recent weeks, James has been vocal about the Cavaliers’ need for another seasoned point guard on the roster, as well as another big man to fill the voids created by the offseason departures of guard Matthew Dellavedova and center Timofey Mozgov.
Although James and Anthony are close and have both expressed interest in playing together someday, sources say Cleveland is not prepared to surrender Love to get Anthony after the role Love played in helping the Cavaliers win the first championship in franchise history in June.
Asked about trade talks later Wednesday, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said: “There’s going to be a lot of things written between now and the end of the deadline and we’re going to be pretty consistent with not telling you any of those things. I’ll always try to keep you from driving off the cliff if you’re banging a drum that’s absolutely untrue all the time, but I’m not going to speak to any of those things.”
Anthony’s future with the Knicks has become a daily topic of conversation despite his no-trade clause; there has been widespread suspicion that team president Phil Jackson wants to move him and start anew with second-year big man Kristaps Porzingis as New York’s centerpiece.
ESPN’s Ian Begley reported earlier this month that some in the Knicks organization believe it’s best if the team and Anthony part ways.
Speaking Wednesday morning in Dallas after the Knicks’ morning shootaround, Anthony was asked if he thinks James’ recent comments — in which he challenged Cavaliers management to improve the roster — were aimed at convincing his bosses to trade for Anthony.
“You ask me a question if he thinks I’d want to play with him?” Anthony told reporters. “Yes. I do think he’d want me to play with him. I don’t think he wouldn’t. But I don’t know if that comment was about me. I don’t think I’m the only playmaker in the NBA.”
Asked specifically about his theoretical willingness to play in Cleveland, Anthony said: “I don’t think about it — [that’s] not something I think about right now. As far as playing with him, I don’t think about that. I can’t think about that. You know I’m not thinking about that.”
Anthony did say Wednesday, though, that his recent meeting with Jackson and Knicks general manager Steve Mills lasted only five to seven minutes — with Jackson doing most of the talking.
Anthony, 32, is earning $24.6 million this season and has two years left on his Knicks contract worth nearly $54 million. The last year of the deal is at Anthony’s option in 2018-19, and the contract contains a 15 percent trade kicker that would hike his current salary into the $29 million range if he is dealt.
Love, 28, is earning $21.2 million this season and has three seasons remaining on his current contract after this year, worth in excess of $72 million. The 2019-20 season, when he is scheduled to earn $25,595,700, is at Love’s option.