Words by Jason Cordner
The marriage between Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks has officially ended. As first reported by ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks have agreed to send Melo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that will be finalized with an official call to the league office on Monday.
In return, Woj reports the Knicks will be receiving Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick from the Chicago Bulls. Ironically, the deal was completed just two days before the Knicks open the team’s training camp and media day.
The Thunder will be Melo’s third N.B.A. team in a professional career that began in 2003, when he was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 3 pick in the draft not long after he led Syracuse to an N.C.A.A. championship as an 18-year-old freshman.
In a summer filled with play makers switching teams, it’s not surprising to see Melo being the latest player to switch teams. Oklahoma City Thunder once again find themselves with a new big three.
The Thunder Just Got Much More Explosive
While Melo is no longer in his prime, the 33-year-old still averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season. If he embraced a small-ball 4 role, his scoring prowess and ability to stretch the floor would make him a dangerous weapon in Thunder’s scheme.
The Thunder was able to add another major asset without sacrificing any key pieces for the upcoming season. The presence of Steven Adams limited Kanter’s impact last season, and McDermott wasn’t ticketed for significant usage following the trade for George.
A starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Anthony, Paul George, Adams and either guard Andre Roberson or forward Patrick Patterson, depending on whether head coach Billy Donovan wants to play big or small, lands the Thunder firmly in the contender category. Watch out Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, the Thunder is coming
What All This Means For The Knicks?
The good news, however, is with Melo gone, the Knicks are going to be even worse in 2017-18, which means they can focus on tanking for a top-five pick in a top-heavy class, hopefully adding another franchise pillar to the group in the process.
After Phil Jackson belittled and undermined Carmelo’s value, the knicks were lucky to get anything back in return. Losing Melo is more addition by subtraction. The Knicks can shift their focus on building around Kristaps Porzingis.
So Long Melo
For much of his tenure at Madison Square Garden, he was also the team’s most popular player — a reputation owing to his wizardry on offense, his generally friendly demeanor and the fact that he had roots in New York, having been born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, before moving to Baltimore. Like Stephon Marbury and even Patrick Ewing, Carmelo Anthony will be remembered for his passion on the court as a Knicks urban legend, but inevitable didn’t deliver a championship to the mecca.