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Portland could be the most likely Rockets-Carmelo Anthony trade partner

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Ryan Anderson could head west to bring Melo to Texas.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New York Knicks
The Portland Trail Blazers could be the most likely team to help bring Carmelo to Houston.
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony appears destined to become a Houston Rocket in a yet-to-be-announced trade between Houston, the New York Knicks and one or two unknown teams.

The 10-time All-Star has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to come to Houston, but any deal is going to be complicated and require at least three teams. Anthony is earning $26 million, and the outgoing salary required to meet NBA rules will necessitate Houston to trade Ryan Anderson, $20 million.

Eric Gordon, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza could all be used in varying combinations to make the trade happen, but Daryl Morey seems unwilling to move any of these players and dead set on unloading the Rockets starting power forward. Anderson is owed approximately $60 million over the next three years and his contract is commonly viewed as an albatross just a season after being inked.

We asked Dream Shake Twitter followers to send us your best trade machine creations yesterday following Woj’s report of an ongoing search for a fourth team to complete the trade.

More than 50 trade proposal came in from cubicles, classrooms and smoke breaks across the city. And the most common third or fourth team in the proposals we received was the Portland Trail Blazers (yes spellcheck changed Melo to Memo in the Tweet).

And Portland being involved makes lots of sense.

Portland has contracts they want to unload

Portland has the NBA’s second-highest payroll. Yes. Portland is spending more money on players next season than the Golden State Warriors, $39 million over the cap to be exact.

Only the Cavaliers have more money locked up next year. Worse than the pile of committed money is the lack of contribution or utility of several players under contract. Portland should want to unload the following contracts:

Allen Crabbe, 25, SG - $56 million total, $19.3 million next year, three remaining years
Evan Turner, 28, SG - $53 million total, $17.1 million next year, three remaining years
Mo Harkless, 25, SF - $31 million total, $10 million next year, three remaining years
Meyers Leonard, 25, C - $32 million total, $9.9 million next year, three remaining years

First off, many of these assets overlap with roles Portland already has filled. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum fill both of the guards slots, often pushing Crabbe and Turner to the three and limited the amount of minutes they get on the court. Certainly making their utility disproportionate for the amount they’re paid.

All of these assets make Portland the most capable of matching salary and providing options for the Knicks, or the ability to split salary using Harkless and Leonard.

Portland could use Anderson

Ryan Anderson is paid too much money, but that’s a product of his really, really, really good three-point shooting, which he did at an elite 40.3 percent on 7 attempts a game in last year’s regular season.

This would be an enormous upgrade for Portland’s offense. Leonard is considered a stretch four/five, but he shot much worse than Anderson at 34.7 percent on 2.9 attempts a game last year.

Anderson immediately opens the floor for a Trail Blazers team with an offensive motor that will continue to run through its two outstanding guards. The presence of a healthy Jusuf Nurkic increases the need for the spacing as the big Bosnian will eat as much interior space as he’s given.

Defense is too mainstream. It’s been around for years and the Lillard-McCollum duo has decided it is too maninstream for hipster Portland. So why not add another leaky sink to the collection and adopt the expectation that they’ll outscore opponents.

Conclusion

Portland is a great partner for an Anthony-to-Houston deal because they’ve got several of their own Ryan Andersons already. They have roughly $56 million locked in to players who they don’t make the most of, so moving that salary to another team and taking on a player who at least fits their goals makes sense.