Well folks, it appears that Carmelo Anthony has finally picked a suitor. After weeks of mild flirtation while rebuffing the advances of other courters and a hot and heavy past few days Melo finally made it official, he’s rolling with the Thunder. The addition of The Hooded One gives OKC another big time scorer in addition to reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and newly acquired Paul George. It also closes some of the gap between the Thunder and Golden State as well as arguably placing them past Houston Rockets who had a rather eventful summer themselves.
As normally the case there are intriguing pieces at play here. The trade in full sends Anthony to Oklahoma City for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 2nd round pick (via Chicago). So while the impact is clear for the Thunder figuring out what this does for the Knicks is a little more convoluted but this doesn’t mean that this was necessarily bad for them. So in grand ol’ basketball and bs form lets see who’s crying tears of joy, who’s crying tears of sorry, and who’s crying tears of utter confusion.
Winner: Carmelo Anthony
I mean you HAD to know, right? Despite all of the efforts to appease Melo this summer starting with the ouster of Phil Jackson the damage to his relationship with the organization had proved to be irreparable and a move was more or less imminent. His no trade clause proved to be the big joker in the deck as it allowed him to choose his destination while making it impossible for the Knicks to dump him off anywhere. This proved to be more and more important as the union continued to sour.
I know talking about a player’s legacy ad nauseam isn’t the best way to spend time analyzing the ever exciting NBA but there has been a growing fascination with how in how we would remember Anthony. I’m probably one of the more vocal Melo critics out there but there’s absolutely no denying that he’s hands down one of the most gifted offensive players of our generation. Sure age is a factor at this point but even if we look at his numbers from last year we’re looking at a guy going into year 15 that can still win games for you even in a slightly diminished role. A clearly disgruntled Anthony huffed, sucked his teeth and eye rolled his way to a line of 22-6-3 on shooting splits of 43-36-83 in 74 games. Pretty damned good I’d say.
That he chose OKC as his new home also tells me that after years of being accused of being a stats first guy he’s clearly showing that he wants to win now and at the cost of stat sheet candy. If this maturation follows him to his play on the court OKC may emerge into the second biggest roadblock in the West. And it may not stop there.
Loser: Enes Kanter
Every trade has at least one but I can’t lie I really hate seeing the Big Gulen here. I REALLY like Enes’ game and most importantly I like him as a person (from what I’ve seen). But in this case he has the godawful luck of going to a team with plenty of emerging front court talent even if there isn’t any elsewhere on the roster. Don’t get me wrong he’s clearly the starting 5 right now but given his persisting defensive troubles that’s kind of an issue. With future of the franchise Kristaps “PorzinGAWD” Porzingis firmly entrenched at the 4 with no real desire to play the 5 Kanter will have to log major minutes in the post without an average rim protection to help.
Kanter’s contract also makes him expendable on a team that may or may not be looking to hit the reset button soon. However, this may be a good thing. If the Knicks decide to go in full on tank and Kanter is having a decent season he may be a pretty hotly pursued trade candidate. And even if that doesn’t happen this is a contract year for him so this opens a bunch of possibilities. It’s just gonna suck seeing him in essentially the same colors but in a MUCH different situation.
Winner: Doug McDermott
No joke, dude is litchrally a few Lance Thomas games away from nabbing a starting spot at the 3. Dougie McBuckets saw a slight dip in his three point shooting in converting 37% of his tries which isn’t terrible but is a noticeable difference from his career mark of 39%. Dougie won’t give you much else but Dougie doesn’t have to. With Melo gone scoring will be their primary focus moving forward. Hell, last year’s group finished 18th in scoring and 21st in three point percentage WITH Melo so yeah I guess it’s safe to say the Knicks will be buying what McBuckets is selling.
Winner: Oklahoma City
The Thunder are winning at the moment, and that’s all that matters for them. Sam Presti pulling off this deal clearly signifies that they are in clear win now mode. There’s a widely held belief that in the NBA the worst thing you can be is middling. You either push all your chips in or you cash out and wait for the table to clear out a bit. Although these two strategies go in wildly different paths they both take a LOT of balls to pull off. I think it’s clear here what Presti is choosing.
On the court this is gonna be a nasty bunch. Check out this death lineup y’all: Russell Westbrook – Andre Roberson – Paul George – Carmelo Anthony – Stephen Adams (or Patrick Patterson if they go real small and athletic). That’s a big bowl of I don’t want anything to do with that in the last two minutes. This is a great fit especially since Melo isn’t nearly as averse to playing some 4 as Paul George and he can still create and make damn near any shot on the floor. Russy has another guy on the floor to divert attention from him. Guarding them will put most defenses in pick your poison mode. And that’s rarefied air given that the two teams you can recently associate with such a characteristic just won the last three titles.
Winner: New York Knicks
Okay folks here’s the deal. If Phil were still here this would be a loss but with the addition of executive Scott Perry this summer this may actually turn into somewhat of a positive in time. If we gauge this by the returns for other star players this summer they actually did well. An above average post guy on a contract year, a much needed shooter and what is sure to be a high second round pick. This is especially impressive when you factor in that they were handcuffed by Melo’s no trade cause. But most importantly, New York can finally move on. They can finally build around Porzingis and really reassess and forge a clear path.
This team will still be bad next year but at least they can be bad with a purpose. At least for a little while. The road is going to be rough but actually having a competent presence in the front office and being buoyed by the godawful Eastern Conference helps. When discussing the move from OKC’s perspective I mentioned that it was a bold move to go all in and this is true. But where the band aid will will be ripped off for the Thunder in one way or another in the next 9 months the Knicks are facing a much longer and arguably arduous road. And there is much definitely some honor in that.