Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to join the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC will send Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick to New York in exchange for Anthony. Rumors of Anthony’s discontent with the team in which he spent seven seasons playing for has carried over into the offseason and reached a fever pitch when ex-Knicks president Phil Jackson publicly insisted New York either trade Anthony or reach a buyout. The 12-time all-star is welcomed to a Thunder team that already boasts superstar talent in Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Following Russell Westbrook’s historic 2016-2017 NBA season, most agreed he could use more help following Kevin Durant‘s departure. Westbrook led his team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. He also played in every Thunder game but one, averaging 34.6 minutes a game with a usage rate of 40.8%. Long story short, Westbrook had to be a one-man wrecking crew to make up for his team’s lack of talent. Thunder GM Sam Presti was well aware of his team’s issues, so he made it a priority to surround Westbrook with superstar-level talent. Following this year’s draft, he commented on how aggressive his front office would be in constructing a better team.
Sam Presti on the Thunder's activity this week in pursuing different deals: pic.twitter.com/FZswzlMukG
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 23, 2017
If this Thunder team lives up to the hype, Presti will likely be an early favorite for Executive of the Year . He somehow managed to flip Cameron Payne, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and Enes Kanter into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony without having to give up a first-round pick. OKC has probably “won” the offseason, if you believe in that kind of thing. The only thing fans are missing is a Russell Westbrook contract extension.
Like most of the Western Conference, the Thunder are going all-in this upcoming season to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. A starting lineup of Westbrook-George-Anthony-Steven Adams is sure to challenge most teams in the league.
As for the long-term sustainability of this team, Presti will have a difficult time keeping this core together if his front office isn’t willing to pay. The deal added an extra $12.4 million in luxury tax for a grand total of $27.8 million. George will be a free agent after this season, but Anthony still has two years, $54 million left on his contract, including a $27.9 million player option for the 2018-19 season. If Westbrook signs his super-max deal, the Thunder payroll could shoot up to $300 million next season, making them the first $300 million team in NBA history.
NBA teams today are willing to pay to construct winning teams. There are currently 21 teams with active rosters over the salary cap. Money may not buy a championship team, but in the Thunder’s case, it sure helps.
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