New York Knicks superstar forward Carmelo Anthony has finally been traded. As the offseason unfolded, I was starting to think I wouldn't get the chance to type those words. In a saga that has dragged on unrelentingly, the move likely caps off the craziest summer ever. The 2013 NBA scoring champion was traded to the Thunder in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick (via Chicago). Oklahoma recently shaped up to acquire Anthony after Melo reportedly expanded the list of teams he would accept trades to. This list reportedly started off with the Houston Rockets and expanded to include the Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The league's newest Big Three
With the offseason acquisitions of Paul George and the four-time Olympian, to go along with Russell Westbrook, the Thunder now boast a big three to compete with the other super teams. The moves look to have made up for the loss of Kevin Durant a season ago, and now prime the Thunder to be one of the league's top teams. With the clear super teams being the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Houston Rockets, the Thunder have set themselves up to challenge those teams.
The Western Conference now appears to be even more stacked. Three of the four above are out West. This trade certainly weakens the Knicks (not that they had much choice), and ultimately weakens the Eastern Conference as a whole. The only other noteworthy Eastern Conference team is the Boston Celtics, and they will struggle to challenge the top teams. For the NBA, however, a new big three into the mix will certainly raise the hopes of those who don't want to see another Warriors-Cavs finals, and should also increase overall competitiveness throughout the league.
What does the trade mean?
Oklahoma clearly won this trade. I don't even think the Knicks got as much as they could have. Cleveland would've had more attractive assets, however, it would've been contingent on what they were willing to give up. Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott are solid players, and there have been good players out of the second-round in recent years, but Carmelo Anthony is one of the greatest scorers of all time. The Knicks weren't supposed to win this trade, or any other trade involving the ten-time All-Star for that matter. However, getting the trade done before the season begins is a win in itself.
The trade means two things. The first is that the Thunder will be at least somewhat competitive. The other is that the Knicks are still the Knicks. OKC gain from this a big three, a team that can challenge in the West, and potentially, a long-term star-filled core. This trade doesn't really make the Knicks any better or worse. Sure, they lost Anthony, but that relationship wasn't working. This is nothing to write home about from New York's perspective, but like the rest of the NBA community, they're probably just happy this ordeal is over.
Two key takeaways from the Carmelo Anthony trade
1. The Anthony acquisition may mean that Westbrook and George stay in town long-term. Both players are out of contract at season's end, and Anthony is off contract at the end of the 2018/19 season. If this new OKC team has some success this year, this may keep all three in town for the foreseeable future. This is certainly not a trade that Los Angeles Lakers fans will be happy about.
2. The Knicks are now officially Kristaps Porzingis' team. Over the last few seasons, the vibe was that Anthony was preparing to pass the torch to the young star, although, now, the trade gives the Latvian the reins to the team. The next few seasons will be pivotal in seeing how the Knicks build around the 22-year-old (that's if they can manage to keep him in New York).
The trade should now signal the end of arguably the craziest offseason ever. With preseason games starting within the next week, I think it's safe to say one of the most unpredictable periods in NBA history is now finally over. Although, it's been unpredictable for a reason, and who knows what the next week holds.
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