Andre Drummond is leading the league in rebounding, Kemba Walker is on the precipice of being named All-NBA and Caron Butler and Richard Hamilton are commentating games on national TV. However, in the NBA G-League, the NBA’s minor league and development arm, another former Husky is doing his part in growing the great game and great league so many fans have come to love.
After months of turmoil in the organization, the New York Knicks have finally traded forward Carmelo Anthony. The team traded the 10-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder for center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and a second-round draft pick via the Chicago Bulls. Campus Correspondents A.J. Amendola and Zac Lane debate which team won the trade.
The Knicks needed to make a move and get rid of Carmelo Anthony. The team has a different goal than that of Anthony. The Knicks are looking to rebuild, seeing that their time to win a championship is now. Trading Anthony clarifies this goal and helps the team to focus on the future. After firing Phil Jackson and bringing in new front office leadership, the time is now for the Knicks to kickstart their rebuild by trading their star player.
In truth, Carmelo Anthony is not capable of being the star on a team anymore. His per-game averages from the past season show that his All-Star selection was warranted, but the metrics show that Anthony had one of the worst seasons of his career. His win shares for the past season are measured at 4.7, the second lowest number he’s registered in a single season. His play also earned him a Player Efficiency Rating of 17.9, the third-lowest single-season measurement of his career, with the lowest and second-lowest coming in his first two seasons in the league. The Knicks achieved addition by subtraction by trading away a player past his prime to help their rebuild.
While it’s true that Melo may not be a star capable of carrying a team on his own anymore, he will now become one of the most deadly third options in the league on a Thunder team that has reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and another All-Star in Paul George. When your third option averaged 22.4 points per game last year, your team is looking pretty good. Anthony also has experience playing with other All-Star-caliber players. While it hasn’t happened much in the NBA due to the teams he’s played on, Anthony thrived playing an off-ball role in the Olympics, where he was more efficient and could pick his spots more easily with talent around him. This version of Anthony is the one that will show up for the Thunder, and the one that will have the Knicks wishing they got more in this trade.
What the Knicks did get in this trade was Enes Kanter, a very solid offensive player who should do more with the Knicks than he did with the Thunder. But he remains atrocious on defense. They also got Doug McDermott, aka Dougie McBuckets, a college phenom that has struggled to carry his college success into the NBA and a second-round draft pick, something that rarely amounts to a good player. Bottom line is that the Knicks should’ve gotten more.
While Carmelo, at least for the remainder of his contract, should be able to flourish playing alongside two MVP-caliber players, his ability and timeline do not fit with the Knicks. Considering all the drama surrounding the team in the past year and the successful efforts of Phil Jackson to lower his trade value, the Knicks actually got a very solid return. Kanter is a very skilled big man, posting per-36 averages of 24.3 points and 11.3 rebounds last season. In an expanded role he can flourish and at only 25 years old, he still has time to figure himself out defensively. McDermott is another 25-year-old who has yet to figure out his professional game, but he showed plenty of skill in college and can improve his game with the right coaching. Along with the second-round pick, the Knicks were able to get a potential return of three solid young players who can help their future.
The bottom line is that the Knicks feel Kristaps Porzingis is ready to lead this team. After an up-and-down rookie season, Porzingis overtook Anthony as the star of the Knicks and showed that he can lead them into the future. In fact, I would be willing to lock him into a starting All-Star selection this upcoming season, and I can even see him leading the Knicks to a 7-seed or 8-seed in the playoffs. With all the talent that has left the Eastern Conference, it’s a real possibility. After the Carmelo Anthony trade, the team has ushered in the Porzingis era and brought in more young assets who can help Porzingis bring winning back to the city.
Yes, Kanter may have put up pretty per-36 minute numbers last year, but he only played 21.3 minutes per game and more minutes could mean more defensive mishaps and less effort from a player who must get better on the defensive end. Not to mention that the Knicks don’t have that many more minutes to give to big men; sophomore Willy Hernangomez showed promise last season and Joakim Noah is only in the second year of his four-year, $72 million deal, and that’s a lot of money to pay someone to be glued to the bench for the next three years. Plus, the main man in NY now, Porzingis, would be best utilized playing at the center next to a small-ball power forward. Maybe someone like Carmelo Anthony, for example.
Both Kanter and McDermott are only 25 and will have a chance to get better in a new situation with new teammates and coaches, but it isn’t guaranteed. McDermott’s shooting will be a great addition for a Knicks team that will need to space the floor, but if his defense doesn’t improve he won’t have much value. The same goes for Kanter. What the Knicks should’ve looked for in this trade was defensive help, since that’s already a sore spot for the team. An athletic, young wing like Jerami Grant would’ve been perfect to help improve the defense, and at 23, he could have continued to grow with the team. The Thunder gave up two flawed players with marginal roles on their team plus a second rounder for their new starting power forward, whose weaknesses look to be masked perfectly by the team around him, setting him up for the most efficient and complete year of his basketball career. That looks like a win for OKC to me.