It happened. It’s over. Carmelo Anthony has left the building.
All offseason there were rumblings of Melo wanting out of New York but the 10 time NBA All-Star held his no trade clause close to his vest and wanted to control his fate when it came to his next destination. Originally he wanted to go to the Houston but without any sizable assets for the Rockets to return the Knicks couldn’t pull the trigger. As the summer dragged on Melo persisted but his list of suitors continued to be unrealistic destinations. This past week something changed. A renewed sense of urgency entered Melo’s camp with New York’s media day and training camp starting on Monday. It was officially now or never time. After months of staring each other down across the table, Carmelo folded his hand and opened up his list of teams he would be willing to waive his no trade clause for. One team on that new list was the Oklahoma City Thunder and now the rest is history.
Carmelo will join Paul George as the Thunder’s All-Star summer acquisitions to team up with last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook. In the exchange the Knicks receive Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round draft pick. In essence this trade works great for all parties. Carmelo gets to play for an instant contender, even in the stacked Western Conference, and the Knicks get young but established talent to (hopefully) quickly transition from a young team to a playoff team.
The Thunder will have a one year window with their two new stars as George is in the last year of his contract and Carmelo can opt out of the last year of his deal at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season. But in that window the Thunder sure will be fun to watch. Concerns will certainly arise about the fact that there is only one ball for three stars to share but at the end of the day here’s the only thing we all need to remember – If Carmelo Anthony is the third best player on your team, your team is REALLY good. While Carmelo has been less efficient in recent years for the first time ever he won’t have to carry the load offensively, potentially meaning more openings as opposing teams are focused on trying to contain the explosive Russell Westbrook.
For New York not all is lost. While the destination may have been a surprise the idea of Carmelo leaving is not new. It’s reality may sting for a few days but the future is bright. With a likely departure at the end of the year a trade meant the Knicks wouldn’t be left empty handed once Anthony was out the door. Kristaps Porzingis is going to continue maturing and will excel with the chance to play with an offensive center in Enes Kanter this year. 19 year old rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina is going to be a project but for the moment has quite the upside. In a very weak Eastern Conference a low playoff seed isn’t a pipe dream for sometime in the next three years and as young pieces continue to grow it’ll become easier and easier to recruit more talent to the big apple.
Do I wish the Knicks could’ve gotten more from this trade? Yes, but they had no leverage with Carmelo publicly telling teams he wanted out. Do I wish Carmelo was still a Knick? Yes, if you are the fan of any team it is always hard to see the franchise leave but Melo gave New York some of his best years and for that I am thankful.
Oh and the Thunder’s first game this upcoming season is against the Knicks. Should be a good one.