Trade Grades: Carmelo Anthony gives OKC new big three; Knicks finally begin rebuild

After years of speculation the New York Knicks finally pulled the trigger, reportedly trading Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick.

The Thunder continue their banner summer, adding Anthony to a nucleus of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, while the Knicks can finally hand over the reins to Kristaps Porzingis and begin the rebuilding process in earnest.

In a summer that has seen George, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas all traded, was there really any other way it could end?

Here are the grades for the Carmelo-to-OKC deal.

Oklahoma City Thunder: A

What else can you say about Thunder general manager Sam Presti? Oklahoma City came out of nowhere to make the first big move of the summer on the eve of the free agency period, trading Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for George. Now they’ve made the last big move of a truly frenetic summer by acquiring Anthony.

Does Anthony turn the Thunder into a legitimate title contender? Probably not. But at the price they paid, it was absolutely the right move to make. As the Washington Post‘s┬áTim Bontemps pointed out, OKC has essentially turned Kanter, Oladipo, Sabonis and backup point guard Cameron Payne into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Any non-tanking NBA franchise would happily take that swap.

The Thunder’s new big three of Westbrook, George and Anthony isn’t quite the Durant-Westbrook-Harden trio of old, but it’s light years ahead of where the franchise started this summer.

There are certainly questions about how the ball-dominant Anthony will fit in with two younger stars who also need their shots, but the Thunder will excitedly try to figure it out throughout the season, hoping that the magical potion is at full strength come playoff time. Many, including our James Herbert, hope that “Olympic Melo” will finally be unlocked, giving the Thunder a team-first star with a refreshed commitment to passing and defense. We’ll see about that.

With Westbrook, George and Anthony on the court together during crunch time, however, the Thunder will likely challenge Houston and San Antonio as the Warriors’ stiffest competition out West. Vegas clearly agrees, as the Thunder’s NBA title odds went from 30/1 to 16/1 after acquiring Anthony (they were at 66/1 back in June before the George deal).

One thing was clear after last season: Despite his incredible individual ability, Westbrook cannot win the title by himself. The Thunder needed to get him help, and they did pretty much as well as they could.

New York Knicks: B

On paper the trade looks bad for the Knicks, but you have to keep in mind what they were up against. New York’s desperation to get rid of Anthony combined with his no-trade clause gave the franchise absolutely no leverage. After the Knicks and Rockets failed to work out a deal to send Melo to Houston, he reportedly handed the Knicks a new list of preferred destinations and told them he wanted to be traded before the start of camp. It was in everyone’s best interest to get a deal done quickly.

For the Knicks to come out with a post scorer and rebounder (Kanter) along with a much-needed 3-point shooter (McDermott) and a future pick is about the best that they could hope for. The Knicks didn’t acquire a franchise-changing talent in the deal, but the fact that they finally got rid of Carmelo and picked up two solid NBA players in the process makes this a win for New York. They can now put the team in Porzingis’ hands and hope for some luck in next year’s lottery. Meanwhile, the product should be more than watchable. According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Knicks project to have virtually the same record next season without Melo.

Overall, the Knicks accomplished what they needed to accomplish with the deal, and the franchise can finally put the tumultuous Carmelo Anthony era to rest.

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