Mark your calendars. That Knicks vs. Thunder matchup on Oct. 19 just got a lot more interesting.
The Knicks finally traded Carmelo Anthony, sending the 10-time All-Star to the Thunder in a blockbuster deal Saturday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. New York will receive Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick (via Chicago). It's probably not the package the Knicks envisioned, but it takes Anthony out of the equation following a tumultuous offseason.
What does yet another crazy trade mean for both sides? Here are five quick reactions to Anthony joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George in Oklahoma City.
1. Carmelo Anthony had to choose the Thunder, and OKC convinced him to join the team.
With that no-trade clause in his back pocket, Anthony was focused on heading to Houston all offseason. When it became clear the Rockets weren't a realistic trade partner (at least not without a third team involved), Anthony included the Cavs and Thunder on his wish list. Well, wish granted.
Anthony will play with two stars in Westbrook and George who are clearly better than him at this stage in his career. That dynamic will be something to watch going forward, but it appears the Thunder's new terrific trio are on the same page.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George played an immense part in getting Anthony to waive no-trade for OKC, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 23, 2017
It wasn't his first option, but Anthony is on a contender and could thrive as a small-ball power forward and lead scorer in secondary units. That sounds significantly better than dealing with trade rumors and speculation all season in New York.
2. Can Billy Donovan and the new "Big Three" make this work?
Of course, this trade doesn't come without a few questions. Placing three great scorers in the starting lineup is a nice problem to have, but it's still an issue Donovan will need to smooth out in the early going.
Consider this: Westbrook, George and Anthony each used at least four isolation possessions per game during the 2016-17 season, with all three players finishing in the top ten in the NBA in terms of points per possession in isolation. All three players also finished in the top 20 in the league in terms of usage percentage with Westbrook easily leading the NBA at 41.7 (DeMarcus Cousins was second at 36.5).
Westbrook, George and Anthony will need to sacrifice something, and Anthony must accept a role as a third option on many possessions. He excelled as a spot-up shooter last season (1.23 points per possession, 93.8 percentile), so he would be wise to feast off kickouts from Westbrook and George.
There was already an adjustment period coming with Westbrook and George on the same team. Adding Anthony to the mix makes Donovan's job more challenging, but a lot more fun.
3. Sam Presti is very good at his job.
This is another steal for the Thunder GM. After snagging George at the start of free agency, Presti worked quickly to acquire Anthony on Saturday. In looking at those two deals, Presti and the Thunder front office easily earned an A+ grade this offseason.
Brought in: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
Sent out: Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, second-round pick
There's always risk involved in deals of this magnitude. What if George leaves for the Lakers in 2018? What if Westbrook doesn't sign an extension? What if Anthony becomes disgruntled with his role?
Even with those possibilities on the table, Presti took a shot and showed he's willing to swing for the fences, proving to Westbrook he wants to build a roster around the MVP able to compete with the best the league has to offer. He didn't lose an instrumental piece, nor did he trade a future first-rounder. This guy knows what he's doing.
4. The Kristaps Porzingis era is here, but it's not off to a great start.
Yes, the Anthony saga was beyond ugly. Yes, it was best to send him out before the season started. Yes, both the Knicks and Anthony needed this to happen. But is this really all New York could muster?
Kanter might not be a terrible fit next to Porzingis, but he's a defensive liability and an overpaid player in a frontcourt with another overpaid player in Joakim Noah. McDermott has shown flashes of offensive ability, but his poor defense has kept him off the floor. McDermott finished last in the entire NBA among 468 qualified players in ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus at minus-3.92. Yikes.
Moving Anthony establishes Porzingis as the No. 1 option, but it shouldn't inspire much confidence in the Knicks' ability to create a winning environment. Former Knicks president Phil Jackson constantly clashed with Porzingis, going so far as to consider trading the rising star just this summer. New president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have some work to do if they want to keep Porzingis happy.
5. The Western Conference is ... Wow.
Seriously, just look at the Northwest Division (Jazz, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Nuggets and Timberwolves). Not the whole conference, just the division.
Northwest Division:— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) September 23, 2017
Then there's Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Chris Paul and more. Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum said it best.
Western conference games gonna be like game of thrones battles against the white walkers— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 23, 2017
We need this season to start immediately.