Carmelo Anthony’s only chance to join friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers next season is not through a trade but free agency. New York Daily News writer Stefan Bondy thinks it would need for the New York Knicks to release the All-Star forward and dramatic pay-cut for Anthony to join a contender like the Cavs.

Melo’s sacrifice

According to Bondy, there’s no way he can see the Cavaliers trading Kevin Love for Anthony straight up this summer. At this point of his career, the Knicks star is no longer a high-value trade target he was three or four years ago.

In fact, his trade value took another hit when the president of basketball operations Phil Jackson openly acknowledged his intention to unload the ageing star.

If Melo really wants to join the Cavaliers, Bondy thinks his best bet is to stand firm with his no=trade clause until the Knicks give up fully on the idea of trading him. Perhaps, the Knicks front office might eventually be forced to waive him instead, allowing Anthony to keep all $54 million remaining on his current deal and test the free-agency market.

The Cavaliers represent the best chance for Anthony to win his first championship ring. LeBron James remains a believer that Melo will somehow resurrect his career in Cleveland. But in order for their reunion to happen, it requires Anthony to make a couple of sacrifices.

The first is to sign a contract way below his market value around $3.5 million since the Cavaliers are already over the cap. Secondly, he needs to accept a role off the bench because there’s no he can supplant Kevin Love at four spots.

“Another concern is Anthony’s willingness to accept a drastically reduced role. Following last season, he implied that he wouldn’t think about coming off the bench for the Knicks.

But the Cavs offer much different circumstances,” Bondy writes.

Anthony, who averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season, just turned 33-years old last May. Time is obviously ticking for the former elite scorer to make that run towards his first championship, and unfortunately, there’s no way he can pull it off in New York.

Open to play the Triangle

North Carolina state star Dennis Smith Jr. recently met with Jackson, and at the meeting, he reportedly expressed his willingness to play with Anthony and accept his role in the triangle. Shawn Farmer, Smith Jr.’s long-time trainer, revealed the prospect’s visit in the Big Apple went well. The meeting reportedly put emphasis on Smith Jr.’s adaptability in playing the triangle.

The dynamic guard was supposed to have a private workout in front of the Knicks officials on Wednesday, but that didn’t happen. Ian Begley of ESPN New York speculates that Smith Jr. might have already received a draft promise from the Orlando Magic, who owns no.6 pick.