Carmelo Anthony’s tenure in New York could be described with many different words. Frustrating, dramatic, polarizing, are just a few that come to mind, but don’t begin to tell the whole story. The Knicks simply had to move on from Anthony, who was mistreated by Phil Jackson and the organization for too long.
Both parties needed a clean slate, and with Saturday’s news that Anthony has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, in exchange for Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and a second round draft pick, New York can finally take a step back and breath. Jackson and Anthony are out the door, Kristaps Porzingis remains, and so too does hope, perhaps in the form of another top-tier lottery draft pick. Hope is really all the Knicks can sell at this point.
For Oklahoma City, this trade is another example of the incredible job their general manager, Sam Presti has done. After losing their franchise cornerstone in Kevin Durant, Presti has rebounded to turn Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott into Paul George and Anthony. Having already lost Durant to Golden State, and with Russell Westbrook on the last year of his deal, Presti had to do something to keep the Thunder relevant, to keep them contending. He’s undoubtedly done that.
It still might not be enough to challenge Golden State’s super, super-team or even a Houston Rockets’ crew that now features a duo of Chris Paul and James Harden, but it makes things more interesting, if nothing else.
For the Knicks, the road to relevance probably has to start with taking steps backwards before moving forwards. In other words, tanking. This is the year to get young guys like Willy Hernangomez, Frank Ntillikina and Ron Baker, among others, some run. Without the triangular shaped shadow lurking over the Knicks, head coach Jeff Hornacek will actually have a chance to implement his own offense and prove his worth as a player developer.
The reset button is a necessary evil in a top-heavy NBA. For the Knicks the move to press that button is one that’s been long overdue. Kudos to them for actually pulling the trigger, because it simply had to be done.
With this trade, the Knicks can take steps to get back to contention, and for the Thunder, the pieces are in place. It’s on head coach Billy Donovan to make it work with three ball-dominant scorers, but it’s a problem many coaches would love to have. While only one of the teams involved will do much winning this season, the Knicks certainly didn’t lose in making a deal that’s been long overdue.