Knicks finally move Anthony in trade with Thunder

Carmelo Anthony goes for an isolation play against his new conference rival, the Golden State WarriorsAfter an offseason of waiting, Carmelo Anthony got his wish. The New York Knicks traded Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick, ending the polarizing star’s tenure with the struggling franchise. Anthony was on the trading block for months, which diminished the value of his return, but the deal should leave both sides satisfied, even if the Knicks and Anthony are just happy to be rid of one another.

Anthony’s tenure in New York began well, with three straight Knicks playoff appearances from 2011-13, but the last four years were a disaster. The Knicks won just 17 games in 2014-15, and they finished last season with 31 victories, well short of a winning record. Anthony was the team’s leading scorer in every season, but his production waned as New York’s struggles continued from year to year, and he became a target of ridicule for team president Phil Jackson—who also left the team this offseason—as well as fans who felt his selfishness was holding the team back.

Oklahoma City offers Anthony a fresh start in more than one way. Not only will he be freed from the suffocating media landscape in New York, but he joins a Thunder team that appears serious about regaining a competitive edge in the Western Conference. Earlier in the offseason the team acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, and the addition of Anthony gives the Thunder a big three along with 2016 MVP Russell Westbrook. George, Anthony, and Westbrook are three of the NBA’s top scorers in isolation, so they should have no problem creating offense as long as they can figure out how to share the ball—which is no guarantee.

The package of Kanter, McDermott, and a late pick appears to be below what the Knicks were reportedly asking for from other teams, such as wanting Tristan Thompson from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but their bagaining position weaked as the offseason dragged on and it was clear Anthony would be moved. Kanter and McDermott are both bench players at best, and neither one of them will come close to replacing Anthony’s offensive production, which is good news for the Knicks’ 2018 draft lottery odds. With Anthony gone, New York can now turn its focus to the future, and that starts with losing a lot of games in the upcoming season.

The Thunder are hoping adding George and Anthony closes the gap between them and the top teams in the West. It might not be enough to catch the Golden State Warriors, but it should put them back atop the Northwest Division and give them a chance against the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets. Either way, all three of Oklahoma City’s stars could be free agents as early as next offseason, so the team is committed to winning now, which is exactly what Anthony was looking for.