There was only one thing left unsettled in the NBA offseason and that was Carmelo Anthony’s destination. That has been resolved.
Anthony has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick ( via Chicago ).
Kanter was a first round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2011. He averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for the Thunder last season. McDermott was the Chicago Bulls’ 11th pick of the 2014 NBA draft. He led the nation in scoring during his senior season at Creighton. After being traded from Chicago, McDermott averaged 6.6 points per game in 19.5 minutes for the Thunder.
The deal is set to be finalized on Monday and Anthony will be available to practice with the team when training camp begins on Tuesday.
It can be recalled that Anthony asked to join the Houston Rockets in order to team up with good pals Chris Paul and James Harden in Space City. But the talks between the Rockets and the Knicks ended in a stalemate after New York wasn’t interested in taking in Ryan Anderson’s three year $60M contract.
The Rockets meanwhile also failed to find an intermediary third team that would help facilitate the trade. Talks stalled after Phil Jackson was fired as President and as his replacement wanted ‘better returns’ for the sweet shooting forward. With time running out, Melo softened his stance.
When the Knicks insisted that they could not come up with a deal with the Rockets, Melo and his team were said to have furnished the Knicks with an additional list of teams that he would agree to be traded to. The list reportedly included Cleveland, Portland and Oklahoma City.
Cleveland was one of Antony’s original preferred landing spots but after Paul went to Houston, the ‘Land disappeared from his radar. The Blazers were rumored to be a ‘sleeper team' to land Carmelo Anthony but in the end it was OKC which pulled off its second surprise of the offseason.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were looking for a star to pair with MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George became a target. George was one of the most highly coveted players of the summer after declaring that he intended to leave Indiana in 2018. Despite high profile teams like the Cavaliers, Rockets and Celtics after him too, it was Oklahoma City who won the sweepstakes.
What made the Paul George trade a bigger surprise was that the fact that the Thunder didn’t give up too much to land him. OKC only gave up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in the deal. With George on board, the Thunder became a better team. And now the Thunder have pulled another rabbit out of their hat in Carmelo Anthony.
Once again, the Thunder bagged a superstar with very little damage to its roster. In Kanter, they traded a big man whom they didn’t use too much because of the emergence of Steven Adams. McDermott was a scorer in college but his role in OKC figured to decrease even more with the arrival of George.
Where the Anthony deal hurts though is in the bank. Carmelo Anthony’s salary brings Oklahoma City’s total payroll to $134M, thus incurring an estimated $27.8M in luxury taxes for the 2017-18 season. Anthony is still owed $54M including a player option of $27.9 for the 2018-19 season.
After adding Anthony, the Thunder now have a potent Big Three at the helm.
A line-up of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams can easily make Coach Billy Donovan look like a genius and the Thunder legit title contenders, at least on paper.
When Kevin Durant left the Thunder the other season, things looked bad for the Thunder. But after Westbrook’s sensational MVP season, they have added two superstars. Now Westbrook has his best opportunity to get back at Durant as the Thunder are now considered as real threats to the Golden State Warriors.
Anthony remains as one of the most prolific scorers in the league, averaging at least 20 points in every season of his NBA career. Only three players have been able to do that: Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. However, he was no longer part of the Knicks future plans.
The Knicks are looking to rebuild under unicorn Kristaps Porzingis. Melo’s image had been conspicuously absent from the team website while Perry and Mills have published blogs that made no mention of Anthony as part of the team. Now, he is officially gone. And the OKC Thunder are grinning from ear to ear.
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