The Sacramento Kings made a trade on Tuesday that very understandably went under the radar, with everything else going on in the NBA. It could have big ramifications for the Carmelo Anthony Rockets pursuit.
The Kings dealt Garrett Temple, a 32-year old forward coming off of a career-high 8.4 points per game for the Kings, the the Memphis Grizzlies. In return they received Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis, and cash, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Temple is set to make $8 million next season, before becoming a free agent in 2019. The move clears cap space for the Kings, who now have $20.5 million to work with.
Last month, ESPN's Zach Lowe says that the Kings could do something similar to what the Brooklyn Nets have done, taking on bad contracts to get extra draft picks.
The legacy of the 2016 cap spike and resulting spending orgy: Only a half-dozen or so teams have pathways to meaningful cap space, and three of them -- Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento -- are signaling they plan to use it to take on bad salary and extract draft picks as the price, sources say. (That is a particularly interesting, and smart, decision for the Kings, considering they don't own their 2019 pick and as a result have some incentive to compete. But they have zero chance of being good and should look at the lost pick as a sunk cost...)
One of those contracts is Ryan Anderson, who has been rumored in moves by the Houston Rockets for a long time now.
If the Kings acquire Anderson for picks, a Carmelo Anthony Rockets move could be close behind.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly been looking to dump Anthony on a team, which would go on to waive him. He did not fit in with the roster last year, and getting rid of his huge contract would help alleviate the massive tax burden Thunder ownership faces.
On a recent episode of The Ringer NBA Show podcast, Kevin O'Connor says that a Ryan Anderson trade would make it easier for the Rockets to acquire the 10-time All-Star.
“It opens up cap space for the Kings where now they have $20.5 million in cap space and that’s notable. Because I’ve recently heard … Houston would be looking for a team to dump Ryan Anderson on that could ease the path to sign Carmelo Anthony.”
Carmelo, a ball-dominant player in his prime, doesn't seem like an obvious fit to upgrade a Rockets team that already has James Harden and Chris Paul. He and Paul are longtime friends, and that relationship could be key to 'Melo fitting in, in what would have to be a very new role for him. The Rockets have been the favorites to end up with him for a while now, and remain at -200 over at online sportsbook MyBookie.