Damian Lillard And CJ McCollum Are Aggressively Recruiting Carmelo Anthony To Join The Blazers

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PORTLAND — Despite months of incessant rumors, Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the New York Knicks…for now.

Anthony was rumored to be heading to Houston to play with his good friend Chris Paul on the Rockets, and the Portland Trail Blazers were reportedly even going to get in on the trade, acting as a third team to facilitate the deal. However, those trade discussions have been put on hold after new Knicks general manager Scott Perry was brought on board.

Anthony, though, would reportedly like a change of scenery and wants to play for the Rockets, not the Knicks.

From the New York Post:

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski during a SportsCenter appearance Tuesday morning, Anthony “has made it clear to [the Knicks]: I want to go to Houston, I am not interested in talking to you about being reincorporated back into this New York roster.”

Anthony may be dead set on Houston, but Portland doesn’t just want to be a facilitator in a trade. They want to trade for Anthony instead of helping Houston, one of their rivals in the West, acquire him. However, since Anthony has a no-trade clause, that makes it difficult for Portland.

But that’s where Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum come in. Both of the Blazers’ star guards have reached out to Anthony and are doing what they can to convince him to come to Portland.

“I spoke to him because obviously, he makes us a better team” Lillard said at his basketball camp in Beaverton, Oregon on Wednesday. “Obviously with [the rumors] being out there and that being a real possibility, I don’t see why I wouldn’t reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual.”

Lillard wouldn’t reveal too much about his conversation with Anthony. But he did share that the chat centered on how much he and McCollum want to play alongside Anthony.

“We had a conversation about it because it’s something we need to talk about,” Lillard said. “So he knew it wasn’t just the team. Myself and CJ would love to have him. So I reached out to him, we texted and that was it.”

McCollum, who made a surprise appearance at the camp and coincidentally has the same trainer as Anthony, also remained coy about his conversations with Melo.

“I think he’s interested,” McCollum said. “I mean, obviously, I feel like he wants to play with his good friends, the Banana Boat friends. I know he wants to play with [Chris Paul] and LeBron [James]. Those are very good teams, very good options, but I feel like we are also a great option.”

McCollum is actually heading to New York City on Thursday and hopes to touch base with Anthony if he’s there. But there’s no scheduled visit between the two.

With Lillard, McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, Portland would be an interesting option for Anthony. The West is quite stacked, though, especially with Paul George joining the Thunder and the Timberwolves adding Jimmy Butler. However, if the Blazers are able to get Anthony, McCollum believes Portland would easily be a top three team in the West. Lillard didn’t throw out any hypotheticals, but he knows how big of a difference Anthony would make in Portland.

“He’s Carmelo Anthony,” Lillard said. “Over the last decade, he’s been one of the best players in the league. I can only imagine having him iso-ing on one side and CJ in the corner, me on the opposite wing and Nurk on the opposite dunker. I can only imagine how hard it would be to guard us when it’s already hard to guard us.”

Despite Lillard’s and McCollum’s optimism, it still seems rather far-fetched that Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to come to Portland, especially since he wants to play with Paul on the Rockets. But you never know, and you can’t fault Lillard and McCollum for trying. And even if Anthony doesn’t come to Portland, Lillard still believes that the Blazers will be a team to be reckoned with next season.

“If our roster is as it is now, then I’m going to go out there and go to war how we are,” Lillard said. “I’m going to go out there believing that we can get it done regardless of what the roster says. I’m going to believe that. I’m going to say that because I truly believe that in my heart that we can go out there and get it done.”