The New York Knicks’ brass held an early-morning press conference, yesterday, fielding scores of questions about Carmelo Anthony’s trade status and whether he would even make Monday’s Media Day. But just roughly 24 hours after the queries – and the best efforts of management to sidestep the questions – Anthony was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
New York traded Anthony for big man Enes Kanter, small forward Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round draft pick.
It was the best deal the Knicks could possibly get, considering Anthony held all the cards with his no-trade clause and teams knew the team would have to take $.50 on the $1.00 for a guy who wanted out and had all the leverage. Anthony’s no-trade clause was so rare that only two other players have one – Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Consider Anthony’s clause as one final middle finger by former team president Phil Jackson to the Knicks’ fans, because it was the major roadblock in any trade discussions with interested teams.
But Anthony waived his clause, as well as his trade kicker, which was also a huge nuisance, as it would’ve cost any team receiving Anthony an extra 15 percent on the remaining years of his deal.
Financially, it’s a decent deal for the Knicks. But for the Thunder, it appears they’re going all-in on a title run – or at the very least trying to keep up with the reigning National Basketball Association champion Golden State Warriors. The Thunder have masterfully played the trade market this offseason, as they flipped Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Kanter, and McDermott into Anthony, and Paul George.
It comes with a cost, of course, as the Thunder will have an additional $12.4 million in luxury tax and will have a total tax of $27.8 million. It’s a steep price for greatness. But when a team is trying to keep up with the Currys and Durants of the league, it’s an aggressive must-have maneuver.
Kanter, who spent last year publicly shaming Kevin Durant for bolting Oklahoma City, while also preaching loyalty to the Thunder organization, gets to spend at least one year under the league’s biggest circus tent – but at least he’ll be well compensated. Kanter has an $18.6 million player option for the 2018-19 season. McDermott, conversely, is on the final year his rookie contract heading into this season.
The Knicks are now in a rebuild, led by team president Steve Mills, who replaced the deposed Jackson, and new general manager Scott Perry. While both played coy at Friday’s press conference on anything Anthony related and didn’t want to discuss any trade scenarios, it’s evident the Knicks are going with a youth movement and will center the roster around forward Kristaps Porzingis.
A league source, who’s deftly in tune with scores of players – particularly on the Knicks – said the payroll slashing and roster purging of high-priced veterans isn’t done.
“Per multiple league sources, there are veteran Knicks who now have their radars up for a potential trade down the line, as this trade signals a youth movement transferring the team to Kristaps and [rookie point guard Frank] Ntilikina,” said the source. “Knowing the league the way they do and their contracts, they expect a veteran salary slashing purge to get younger and reload for the future.”
The source continued, adding that of the guys he’s talked to, “only THJ [Tim Hardaway, Jr.] feels secure … the rest are like, ‘what the [expletive]?’”
There was most certainly a lot of those “what the [expletive]” thoughts around the league, today, as the Western Conference just got crazier – and more fun.