By Matt Johnson
on Saturday, September 23rd
Just like that, the Carmelo Anthony era in New York ended. On Saturday, the Knicks traded Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and the Chicago Bulls' 2018 second-round pick. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported word of the trade, which will be made official on Monday.
Anthony recently agreed to expand his list of teams he would waive his no-trade clause for over the past few days. The expansion of the list to include the Oklahoma City Thunder and Anthony's desires to be with a new team before training camp begins, accelerated talks and now leads to a deal finally being reached.
Earlier Saturday morning, Wojnarowski reported talks between the teams heated up and a short time later, both sides agreed to the deal. Anthony, whose contract carries a 15 percent trade kicker and is already owed $26 million this season, agreed to waive the trade kicker to help make the deal work financially for the Thunder.
Once again, Oklahoma City trades spare parts to land an impact player. Kanter, who is still owed over $36 million combined the next two seasons, fell out of favor with the Thunder with the fast development of Steven Adams. McDermott would have backed up Paul George this season and came off the bench in limited minutes, served as an easily expendable piece for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have now added significant money to their salary cap with the acquisition of George and Anthony. Oklahoma City, who was over the salary cap before the trade, now will pay $27.8 million in luxury taxes.
But the move is easily worth it for the front office. While Anthony's arrival in Oklahoma City might not have been expected, the 33-year-old forward adds another high-end scoring option to pair with George and Russell Westbrook.
The trio all finished last season amongst the top-20 in usage percentage last season. Westbrook led starters at 40.8 percent, while George and Anthony finished 15th amongst starters at 29 percent. It will prove to be an early challenge for head coach Billy Donovan to make it all flow, while all three perennial All Stars must adjust to sharing the basketball and at times passing out of looks to give someone else some shots.
Even with the adjustment period, Oklahoma City now is leaps and bounds better than when it entered the offseason. Westbrook's shoulders will now be pressured with significantly less weight as he can rely on George and Anthony to make plays at any moment.
While they certainly aren't on the Golden State Warriors level as a contender, this trio should help Oklahoma City finish as a top-three team in the Western Conference and could push them to the Western Conference Finals. That could be enough to help convince George, Westbrook and Anthony to stay in town when their contracts end.
As for the Knicks, a team that held no real power in negotiations with a player that both sides wanted out and is still owed a significant amount of money, the small return shouldn't come as any surprise.
The second-round pick might be the most valuable asset for New York. Kanter will produce points for New York, but he is a liability defensively and his contract makes him a bigger negative than positive for the organization. Meanwhile, McDermott finds himself on his third team in less than a year and another change of scenery and a new system likely won't change his status as a draft bust from the 2014 draft class.