Somewhere, Sam Presti is in his secret lair, plotting a trade for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis that centers around Steven Adams and a couple of second round picks. It’s absurd to think about it but hey it works!
And as long as it’s valid in the ESPN trade machine, then I’m guessing it’s on the table for the OKC GM, the same guy that acquired Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, and was able to flip Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2nd round pick (via Chicago) for Carmelo Anthony.
So how does this trade affect the rest of the league? Let’s start with the…
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
After Kevin Durant left the team, the success of last year’s Thunder squad was dependent on Russell Westbrook. And boy, did he have himself a season. The first player to average a triple-double carried OKC to the 6th seed and a five-game postseason date with the Rockets. The acquisition of Paul George in July was already a coup, gave Westbrook a perfect sidekick and Billy Donovan a two-headed defensive anchors with Andre Roberson at the wing.
Now they have themselves a new big-three with the arrival of Melo.
The Thunder finished below Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, Clippers, and Utah last year. Does a Melo-PG13-Westbrook core push them above those teams (except for the Warriors)? Utah lost Hayward, Clippers lost CP3, Houston added CP3 but lost depth, and San Antonio is still San Antonio. At worst, the Thunder are the 4th best team; at best, they’re just below the Warriors.
One last thing — Russell Westbrook hasn’t signed an extension with OKC while Paul George sees the Thunder as a one-year stint before moving to the Lakers. With Melo, Presti gives both players enough reasons to stay with Oklahoma for more than a year.
NEW YORK KNICKS
For all the hoopla that surrounded Carmelo, it’s hard to believe that a Kanter-McDermott-2nd round pick was the best they could get for him. But moving a player with a no-trade clause gives them very little leverage. In 2007, Kobe Bryant was pushing for a move to the Chicago Bulls in a trade that centered around Luol Deng. One problem though — Kobe wants Deng in Chicago. A trade never materialized and Bryant stayed in LA.
The trade ended a 7-year Anthony era that was full of management errors and a revolving door of coaches. But it also meant giving the keys to Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks will be entering this season in rebuilding mode, and Kanter and McDermott (both 25 years old) joining the Latvian, Frank Ntilikina, and Tim Hardaway Jr. to start the Knicks culture all over again.
Now if they can only move Joakim Noah’s 3-year albatross contract.
Two reasons this trade affects the Nets:
1) They are now the best team in New York!
2) In no particular order, the Nets are better than Chicago, Atlanta, Orlando, Indiana, Phoenix, and New York. That means that the 2018 1st Round pick they owe to Boston, which has since been traded to the Cavaliers, could be as good as a 7th pick.
Maybe that’s why Boston wasn’t hesitant to include the BKN pick to acquire Kyrie? Bad news for the…
The Cavs acquired the 2018 BKN pick from the Celtics, along with Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, to prepare them just in case LeBron leaves Cleveland for the second time. A weaker Knicks team devalues that pick even more.
The Melo-to-Cavs move could have also delayed the LeBron-to-LA rumors for another year, and gives Cleveland more depth and scoring to keep up with the Warriors and Celtics. Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye’s expiring contract made the most sense in a Melo trade, instead of a straight-up deal for Kevin Love.
Maybe Dwyane Wade comes to town after securing a buyout with a tanking Chicago Bulls?
But the Knicks were determined to move him in the West rather than help another team in the East, the same way Kevin Pritchard and Indiana handled the Paul George trade. Cleveland misses out on George and Melo, lost Irving, and could soon see LeBron leaving for the sunny West coast.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Speaking of Paul George, the Lakers’ interest in the soon-to-be free agent is well-documented. But the addition of Melo gives PG13 and OKC a legit chance to compete for a title. If it works out and Westbrook, George, and Melo stays competitive with the Warriors, then it’s hard not to stay. But if it’s a total disaster with Westbrook and Melo hogging the ball most of the time, then the Lakers are ready to pounce on him once again.
Houston has always been at the top of Carmelo’s wish list. They have his buddy, CP3, and a legit MVP contender in James Harden. But the Rockets just couldn’t get a deal done in a package that centers around Ryan Anderson.
Instead, they get to see Carmelo in a team that they could very well matchup in the postseason. Would you rather have a Harden-CP3-Capela or a Westbrook-George-Melo in a 7-game series?
That’s what I thought so.
Carmelo’s exodus to the West gives a lot of players in the East to compete in the All-Star Weekend. As it stands and barring any injury, the surefire all-stars are LeBron, Kyrie, Greek Freak, DeRozan, Wall, Hayward, Lowry, Kemba, Embiid and Isaiah Thomas.
Possible first time starters are throwing a party. Remember, being an All-Star triggers the Designated Player Extension, giving players more money in their next max contract.
It also opens up the conference even more. The top-3 may be a lock between the Cavs/Wizards/Celtics. But it’s easier to steamroll past the Magic, Hawks, Bulls, and Knicks to compete for a postseason spot.
Put the opposite of everything I said about the Eastern Conference here. Harder to be on the All-Star team, harder to be in the Playoffs, harder to make any noise.
That’s about it. I’m glad that Carmelo has moved on from a team deprived of talent to a team that’s starting to make noise. Maybe we get to see the real Melo now.
I just hope he brought his hoodie with him.
– Rey David Gamboa