Carmelo Anthony's move to the Houston Rockets is stalled and possibly off-the-table after a new general manager showed up in New York and launched a staymelo plot.
This is a blow for Houston, perhaps only a temporary one, but one which would have been avoided if not for Meyers Leonard. This week the Portland center has appeared untradeable and may be the reason Carmelo isn’t in red and yellow yet.
From all the rumors and Tweets we've seen over the last week we've culled together the outline of the heavily hinted trade for Carmelo:
Houston gets: Carmelo Anthony
New York gets: Maurice Harkless, pick(s)
Portland gets: Ryan Anderson
This framework is missing a lot. There's very likely draft picks, role players and potential other considerations included in any final trade for Carmelo, but this is the outline of what has been heavily hinted over the last week.
A big sticking point appears to be New York's unwillingness to take center Meyers Leonard in the deal. The big man is owed $9.9 million next year and $32 million total over the next three years.
Looking at Portland's roster shows there's two sets of contracts you can pair with Harkless, $10.1 million, to get the deal done and keep the outgoing salary right with the incoming money. It's either Leonard or Al-Farouq Aminu, $7.3 million, and Ed Davis, $6.3 million.
Pairing the two of them would save Portland more money, but Leonard is the real financial albatross they want off the roster. At the end of the day Portland doesn't need the trade as badly as Houston, they're not going to play ball if they're not getting rid of a toxic asset at while taking on Anderson's 3 years and $60 million.
Harkless isn't playing up to his contract, but he's a serviceable player with qualities on both ends. Aminu and Davis are not worth their contracts, but in two years they'll both be off the books, unlike Harkless, Leonard and Anderson.
Leonard is the price of Portland playing ball and taking Anderson, without considering draft picks. But New York appears to have balked hard in the past week at taking the $32 million three-year contract of Leonard on a once-promising but recently unusable player: 16.5 mpg, 5.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 38.6% fgpct, 34.7% 3pct.
New York's disinterest in Leonard would mean the three teams need a fourth team to absorb this contract. That’s where the trade appears to have stalled entirely.
A fourth team would need cap space to swallow the deal or be willing to send a player to New York on the level of Leonard. That would necessitate a team that wants Leonard or who has an asset New York would actually want with financials which match. And those pickings are slim.
Houston's attempts to acquire Carmelo are likely not over. Anthony will end up where he wants to end up because of his no trade clause. It's possible that is New York, but it seems more likely he'll chase a ring rather than miss the playoffs on a struggling franchise.
Also there's every possibility the pause button has been hit by New York to try and scrounge better trade options or let pressure build on the Rockets to try and pry free Clint Capela or other Houston assets. Or just for the sake of the new general manager not looking entirely powerless right out of the gate.
However, if this is the end of the deal and Carmelo never lands in Houston, then this may be the biggest and most consequential moment of Meyers Leonard's career. And he didn't even have to step on the court.