Carmelo Anthony wanted LeBron James, Banana Boat in Houston

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: Carmelo Anthony
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18: Carmelo Anthony /

If Carmelo Anthony could have had his way, LeBron James would have left the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason and joined him on the Houston Rockets.

Over the summer, there were rumors that the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the verge of bringing the Banana Boat crew to the Land. Carmelo Anthony was a trade target, Kyrie Irving requested a trade, Kevin Love was apparently on the trade block and there were many around the league that felt as if Dwyane Wade’s tenure in Chicago would come to before the NBA’s buyout deadline.

It almost happened. There was a trade that was supposed to bring Anthony and Paul George to Cleveland on draft night that fell through on the Indiana Pacers’ end.

(Quote transcribed by ESPN’s Ian Begley):

"“Me and PG have a very close friendship. Actually, it was funny because me and PG was supposed to be in Cleveland on draft night. we were communicating about that. The deal was actually done and it got called off on draft night, so me and PG stayed connected throughout the course of the season.”"

The only missing piece was Chris Paul, who wound up in Houston as the Los Angeles Clippers sent him to the Rockets in a sign-and-trade deal.

As it turns out, Anthony — the much-maligned forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder — had dreams of the Banana Boat crew teaming up with the Houston Rockets.

"Anthony, along with most of the rest of the NBA, said in September that he strongly believed he’d be traded to Houston in early July. He’d been talking to friends about teaming up with Chris Paul and, eventually, LeBron James in Houston and how the Rockets could match up with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. He went as far as to detail individual matchups between that hypothetical Rockets team and the Warriors, surmising that he and the Rockets could take out the Warriors. For most of the offseason, Anthony was confident that the Knicks and Rockets would get a deal together."

After he requested a trade from the New York Knicks, the offseason was highlighted by rumors he would be traded to the Rockets and that he was unwilling to be traded anywhere else. Anthony would wind up with the Thunder along with George but in separate deals.

The Banana Boat in H-Town, though? That could have happened if Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had found any takers for Ryan Anderson and his four-year, $80 million contract (he has three years remaining on his deal). Had that hurdle been cleared, Anthony would have joined Paul in Houston and there would have been a place for Wade after his buyout as well.

Even if Wade was to come to Cleveland, it’s possible that if James chose to leave and join the Houston Rockets in the offseason that Wade would have been right behind him.

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Quite frankly, it’s still possible. Should the Thunder, who are struggling to balance the playing styles of Anthony, George and Russell Westbrook, opt to trade Anthony in order to give George the green light he wants, Anderson would be an interesting addition. With 76.6 percent of his field goals coming from assists (compared to 54.5 percent for Anthony), he’s not nearly as ball-dominant as Melo. Taking 1.4 pull-up attempts compared to 6.4 pull-attempts for Anthony, he’s clearly a player apt to stand on the perimeter and shoot (he makes 41.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes).

If the Rockets give up a draft pick to acquire Anthony, that’s probably a deal that the Thunder consider taking. Ultimately, when James decides where he wants to play for his next four seasons (assuming he signs a max contract), seeing Paul, Anthony and James Harden already teamed up would be an enticing prospect. Especially knowing Wade could sign there as well.

However, with Anthony unlikely to decline his $27.9 million player option in the offseason (who else will pay him that much?), he’s the player (between he and George) likely to stay with the team past this season. As a result, Anthony could stick around until his contract expires.

Only time will tell but the only way Anthony could have his Banana Boat will be in Houston or if unlikely events, including him opting out of his contract or reaching a buyout, occur to bring him to Cleveland.

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Anthony is averaging a 17.3 points per game (15.8 field goal attempts per game), 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.7 blocks per game while shooting a 40.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from three-point range. His points per game, field goal attempts per game, assists per game and field goal percentage are all career-lows. For his career, Anthony averages 24.5 points (9.4 field goal attempts per game), 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steal and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from three-point range.