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Let’s Speculate! Would Nets take on Ryan Anderson?

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San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony still wants out of New York. On Thursday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Knicks franchise player was willing to forego an $8 million trade kicker if Steve Mills, Scott Perry et al can facilitate a move to Houston. And no, there’s no indication that Melo wants to join Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum in Portland.

The big roadblock stopping a deal, apparently, is finding a third (maybe fourth) team to take on Ryan Anderson’s massive contract. The former Net is owed $61.1 million over three years. It’s not that he’s a bad player. He’s a good player (when healthy) but not worth an average of $20 million a year through 2019-20, when he will be 32 years old.

According to several reports, the price tag for taking on Anderson “for teams with cap space” is two first round picks. Now, the Nets haven’t been specifically mentioned in those reports, but they are the team with the most cap space. And we hear that, yes, the Nets were approached.

So what are the issues here. Let’s Speculate! The Nets do have just enough cap space if they want to take him on straight up. They did decide to exercise a team option on Quincy Acy’s $1.71 million salary for next season and they finally signed first round pick Jarrett Allen. That’s another $1.71 million. The moves leave them with $13.7 million in cap space BUT could jump to $16.7 million if they decided to waive Spencer Dinwiddie and Archie Goodwin, who are non-guaranteed (Goodwin) or partially guaranteed ($50,000 for Dinwiddie). AND it could take another jump to $19.7 million when the Nets renounce a $3 million cap hold on Randy Foye.

So, straight up, the Nets would have just enough to take on Anderson’s deal this year, which is $19.6 million. There could be other moves, either before a deal or part of it to preserve some space.

Of course, a deal like this need not be straight up, that is, two picks for Anderson. There are many, many ways to do such a deal when there are three or four teams willing to work something out. For example, the Nets might want to send Andrew Nicholson, now looking like the third string center, out as part of a deal. Goodwin and Dinwiddie’s contracts could be more valuable as pieces in a deal than cut now. Both could be waived after the deal is done with a net loss of $50,000.

But the bigger issue is what would loom ahead for the Nets in 2019-20, the last year of Anderson’s deal when he will make $21.3 million. That’s a big year for the Nets. They’ll have their own first round pick for the first time since 2013 but they are already committed to two salary dumps already.

They will have to pay Timofey Mozgov, who’ll be 33, $16.7 million, and assuming he doesn’t opt out, Nicholson $6.9 million. Deron Williams will still be on the cap for $5.5 million, the final year of his stretch payments. Finally, there’s the matter of D’Angelo Russell who will have to paid big bucks for the first time that year.

Now, the salary cap in 2019-20, it’s estimated, could be as high as $120 million, $21 million more than this coming season. That could cover a multitude of sins, but still, so much dead or dying money on the cap could be problematic for a rebuilding team that will likely still need flexibility.

Two first rounders, of course, would be a big help in that rebuild. Both the Rockets and Knicks have plenty. The Rockets are only missing one first rounder, now owned by the Hawks but it’s protected 1-3 in 2018 through 2023. The Knicks have all their first rounders going forward. Of course, the Knicks don’t want to give up picks in a Melo deal. They want to add some.

Maybe, as we noted, the Nets decisions on Acy and Allen signal they’re not that interested in helping the Knicks or maybe it’s a signal to other teams that they won’t wait much longer on lesser cap moves.

The Blazers are looking to dump some of their (vastly) overpaid players, most specifically Meyers Leonard ($31.7 million over three). And the Bucks were supposedly interested in finding new homes for Greg Monroe ($17.9 million over one) or John Henson ($31.7 million over three). That need may be diminished by Derrick Rose’s decision to look at L.A. or Cleveland over Milwaukee.

And there’s always the possibility that the Nets are basically done, will add a couple of small pieces but hoard their cap space until the 2018 free agency when it will be more valuable.

As we have always said, trying to imagine what GM’s can come up with is far outside the fans’ ken. We have always been shocked by how the CBA can be manipulated. It’s why GM’s get paid millions of dollars ...and we’re left to “Let’s Speculate!”