September 25th 2017: The New York Knicks finally trade Carmelo Anthony
After many months of speculation, the New York Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony less than 48 hours before the start of training camp. This departure was a long time coming. Discussions marinated early in the 2016-17 season as Phil Jackson publicly sought to move Melo. After the Knicks fired Phil, there was a near agreement to send Melo to the Houston Rockets in a trade centered around Ryan Anderson. However, new GM Scott Perry urged the Knicks to back off on the trade.Over the course of the offseason, Perry attempted to engage with Melo to just reassure his desire to move on from the Knicks. Perry’s interest was not only to find a suitor where Melo would waive his no-trade clause, but also receive a return that would not hamper the team financially. The Oklahoma City Thunder was not on Melo’s initial list of teams, but Perry was able to convince him to waive the no-trade clause and proceed.
Knowing that training camp was 48 hours away, the Knicks knew it was important to move Melo quickly. Both teams worked out the details to the trade and it became official later Saturday afternoon. Melo’s 6.5 year tenure in New York was over.
Arriving to the Knicks were both Enes Kanter & Doug McDermott. Kanter came off a somewhat productive season, however his defensive flaws became public after Billy Donovan appeared to say “Can’t Play Enes” during a playoff game. McDermott played a 1/2 season with the Thunder showing his ability to be a serviceable marksmen from the floor. He was also entering his final year of his rookie deal. Also arriving in the deal was a 2018 2nd round pick via the Chicago Bulls (more on this later).
Melo’s tenure in New York was one of many highs and lows. The Knicks reached the playoffs three straight seasons after the team acquired him. However, his limitations were front and center, especially to those fans that seemed to put on the unrealistic expectation for Melo to be LeBron 2.0. Along the way, Melo dealt with multiple roster iterations, 5 head coaches, and 4 different front offices. Clearly, there was no consistency.
Unfortunately, Melo’s $124 million extension proved to be the beginning of the end of his Knicks career. He wasn’t the same the moment he signed the contract. He underwent knee surgery midway towards the 2014-15 season. He controversially delayed the procedure to start in the All Star Game, which may have led to a further decline in his athleticism.
After the surgery, Melo lost most of his athleticism. While he didn’t rely on athleticism to score, he did use the bursts to create separation and to get to the line. Melo couldn’t do either and was more relegated to a high volume, inefficient jump shooter. Defense was never a strong suit in his game and his shortcomings became front and center in recent years. Therefore, Phil Jackson, the one who gave Melo the contract, felt that the end of the road was imminent. Indeed it was.
Melo played one season with the Thunder and got back into the NBA Playoffs. However, the team chemistry with Russell Westbrook & Paul George wasn’t ideal. The team traded Melo to the Hawks after the season. The team released him and Melo signed with the Houston Rockets to re-unite with Mike D’Antoni. However, the reunion lasted all of 11 games. Melo hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since.
As for the other players: Enes Kanter quickly became a fan favorite (as is the case with every team he plays for). He became the starting center for most of his tenure. After he opted in to his contract, Kanter failed to realize the team was rebuilding. New coach David Fizdale reduced his minutes and Kanter whined publicly about it. The team eventually bought him out.
McDermott had a good run with New York. He showed his ability to shoot while also being the recipient of many-a backdoor cuts. The Knicks traded him mid-season to the Dallas Mavericks in a three-way deal that netted Emmanuel Mudiay. McDermott eventually received a nice 3 year deal $22 million deal. Mudiay, on the other hand, was quite the opposite.
As for that 2018 2nd round pick: that pick turned out to be Mitchell Robinson. Enough said.
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