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Carmelo Anthony trade: The teams that should try to grab the Knicks forward and why

The Clippers, the Wizards, the Celtics and others could benefit from having Melo in their ranks

Carmelo Anthony has been at the center of recent trade talk. The nine-time NBA All-Star has a no-trade clause, but New York Knicks president Phil Jackson seems quite eager to make a deal and push buttons to get him to waive it. But which NBA teams should make a strong run at the 13-year veteran before the clock strikes at the trade deadline on Feb. 23?

Although the Cleveland Cavaliers may appear like the front-runner, LeBron James and the team have shot down trade rumors about his good friend joining the 2016 NBA champions. Eastern Conference All-Star forward Kevin Love is currently playing the best he has ever played for Cleveland. Even if James or the Cavs are bluffing on their Anthony interest, it wouldn’t make sense for the reigning NBA champions to reinvent the wheel by trading Love. Cleveland could actually offer a Melo trade that wouldn’t include Love, but such a move would gut their bench, a source told The Undefeated.

But to challenge Cleveland’s championship throne, there are some Eastern Conference teams that should seriously consider making a deal for one of the NBA’s most intimidating scorers. Anthony could be the missing link for any Western Conference team challenging the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.

Here’s a list of five teams that should make a play for the embattled Knicks forward.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

Selling point: The Los Angeles Clippers have long needed an elite small forward to truly make them an NBA title contender. Anthony could be that guy, although it has been questioned whether he can still flourish at small forward, one NBA executive told The Undefeated. Los Angeles is all about stars, and the addition of Anthony would give the Clippers four. How difficult would the Clippers be to guard with Anthony, a healthy Chris Paul and Blake Griffin? NBA All-Star center DeAndre Jordan would also benefit with easy alley-oops and putbacks. The addition of Anthony could also make it more attractive for his good friend Paul to re-up his contract during the offseason. Moreover, Anthony owns an offseason home in Los Angeles and his wife, La La Anthony, is an actress who could benefit from being close to Hollywood. Anthony has also agreed to decline his no-trade clause for the Clippers. However, spacing and how Anthony and Griffin could co-exist offensively would be a concern.

2. Boston Celtics

Selling point: The Boston Globe previously reported that Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to go to the Atlantic Division rival Boston Celtics. Anthony, All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford could join forces to become the latest edition of Boston’s “Big Three” lineup that could challenge Cleveland. The Celtics have the necessary young talent and draft assets to make such a deal if president Danny Ainge chose to do so. Anthony certainly would enjoy playing for a franchise with 17 NBA championships after playing for two franchises in New York, and the Denver Nuggets who haven’t won anything since long before he was born. Boston is also only a 45-minute flight from New York City if his wife and son remained there. It would be easy being green for Melo in Boston.

3. Washington Wizards

Selling point: While Anthony has often called New York City home, his true hometown is his childhood city of Baltimore. The Washington Wizards are the NBA team of the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area and would have a scary offensive lineup with Anthony, All-Star guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal. Washington also has several old Nuggets ties he would be familiar with in head coach Scott Brooks, senior vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard, assistant coach Chad Iske and director of coaching administration Eric Sebastian. The Wizards learned during Monday night’s home overtime loss to Cleveland that they are close, but perhaps a player away from being a factor. Adding Melo could trump all the bad news in Washington as of late, and the hometown-area hero could spark a playoff run.

4. Toronto Raptors

Selling point: Anthony said during the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto that he is a fan of the Canadian city. With the Toronto Raptors, he would join forces with a star-studded backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. All three were teammates on USA Basketball’s 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medal-winning team. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri actually traded Anthony to the Knicks while serving as the Nuggets’ general manager. Toronto has had its eye on landing a power forward like Orlando’s Serge Ibaka before the trade deadline, a source said. But if the Raptors can’t land Ibaka, perhaps Anthony is the next best move. O Canada, get Melo.

5. Atlanta Hawks

Selling point: The Atlanta Hawks would instantly become an Eastern Conference title contender with a very formidable frontcourt of Anthony, All-Star forward Paul Millsap and center Dwight Howard. Just imagine the scoring and rebounding that would come from that trio. Howard and guard Thabo Sefolosha have the ability to aid Anthony’s defensive liabilities. The Hawks have an expiring contract they can offer in injury-prone center Tiago Splitter, who is making $8.5 million in the last year of his contract. La La Anthony is also an Atlanta native who is close friends with rapper/actor Ludacris and singer Ciara. The Hawks, however, don’t appear interested in making a major roster move before the trade deadline, a source said. Even so, ATL could be for Melo, shawty.

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.