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The NBA season is still in its infancy, but that hasn’t stopped teams from already eyeing the next move that could help them as the league gears up for its most wide-open postseason in recent memory.
The Portland Trail Blazers have started the in-season improvement movement. The addition of Carmelo Anthony to the team gives them another interesting piece, and the details surrounding the former New York Knicks star’s contract are coming out.
Anthony isn’t the only big name who started the season in limbo. Andre Iguodala and Jamal Crawford are among those who aren’t currently suiting up but could find a home before the chase for the championship starts heating up.
Here’s a look at the latest on some of the veterans who could help out contenders.
Carmelo Anthony Gets Non-Guaranteed Contract
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The Blazers made waves with the acquisition of Anthony, but they aren’t quite locked into a future with him quite yet. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, his deal won’t become guaranteed until January 7 when he will be guaranteed $2.15 million.
That makes this a low-risk move for the Blazers. They desperately need a shot in the arm after a sluggish start and especially need help at forward.
Zach Collins has been ruled out for up to four months after shoulder surgery, and Rodney Hood has been in and out of the lineup with back spasms. If Anthony is willing to take a reduced role, this could be a steal for Portland.
The 35-year-old essentially took a year off last season. He only appeared in 10 games with the Houston Rockets, scoring 13.4 points per game while mostly coming off the bench.
The Blazers will hope the year off has been good for Anthony’s mindset as he transitions from being the main attraction to a role player. He cites his relationship with Damian Lillard as a reason that he looks forward to joining the team.
“I always kept my eye on Portland,” Anthony said on his YouTube channel, per Yahoo Sports. “It just didn’t work out at other times, but now it seems like a perfect opportunity. Me and Dame, we’ve been talking for the past couple years, just off and on. CJ [McCollum] has been playing in my Black Ops runs for the past four years. I just look at that opportunity, that team and say, look ‘this is what I can bring to the team, this is where I can help it.’ It will only work if all parties see it the same way.”
Anthony got the start in his debut with the team on Tuesday night against the Pelicans. He will be called upon to help the offense get back to the kind of performance that made Portland a Western Conference finalist last season.
Lakers, Mavericks, Blazers Among Potential Trade Suitors for Andre Iguodala
You have to go back nine years to find the last time Andre Iguodala didn’t at least suit up in the playoffs. The forward has played a crucial role in the Golden State Warriors’ championship runs after stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets.
It isn’t likely the 35-year-old will make the playoffs with his current team, the Memphis Grizzlies, but there are plenty of playoff contenders looking to add him before the stretch run.
The Grizz and the former All-Star are at an impasse. Sean Deveney of Heavy.com reported Iguodala and the team are waiting to either buy out the former All-Star or a team offers a first-round draft pick in a trade.
The Lakers are among the suitors, but coming to terms on a deal has proved to be difficult. The team is looking to get a first-rounder, but Los Angeles has already dealt its 2021 and 2024 picks to the New Orleans Pelicans and can’t trade first-round picks in successive years.
Deveney also mentions the Mavericks as a potential trade candidate with the assets to get a deal done. They have Courtney Lee’s $12.8 million contract and a trade exception from the Harrison Barnes deal that could make salaries match if the right draft pick compensations were attached.
Other teams such as the Blazers lurk in the shadows.
It’s easy to see why Iguodala has piqued the interest of playoff contenders. He isn’t the offensive piece he once was, but he still shot 49.4 percent from the field last postseason with the Warriors and provides veteran leadership to go along with good defensive skills.
He averaged one steal and one block last postseason and has a history of playing good defense against the likes of LeBron James.
As the season matures into trade season, it stands to reason that Iguodala’s stock will only go up from here.
Jamal Crawford Still Wants to Play; Los Angeles and Philadelphia Potential Destinations
While Iguodala is still desired for his defensive prowess, teams might still be willing to take a look at free agent Jamal Crawford for his offensive abilities.
J. Crossover is 39 years old but showed signs he can still light it up at the end of last season. He averaged 31.3 points per game over the last four games of the season for the Phoenix Suns including a 51-point performance in the last game of the season.
The electric guard isn’t ready for retirement quite yet.
“I know I can play and I would think my reputation is still solid. It’s baffling to me,” Crawford told Shaun Powell of NBA.com.
It’s likely just a matter time before the veteran gets his shot, though. Brandon Robinson of Heavy.com reported “the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers are believed to be interested in Crawford.”
Robinson also noted the Lakers and Clippers are both waiting for the Iguodala situation to play out before making a move for Crawford. So it’s likely that once that domino falls, he won’t be far behind.
There may not be a lot of tread left on the tires, but Crawford is undeniably a prodigious scorer. He’s still revered by teammates, and Lakers star Anthony Davis has spoken highly of him this season:
Crawford might not have a club right now, but it’s likely he’ll play a role on a team gunning for the postseason before too long.