The team did not speak directly with Anthony before agreeing Saturday to a trade that would send center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and the Chicago Bulls’ 2018 second-round pick to the New York Knicks in exchange for the 10-time All-Star. Anthony moving to power forward, handling the ball less, becoming the third option — all of which seem like inevitabilities — is a natural understanding. That’s the Thunder’s hope, at least.
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But Anthony picked Oklahoma City knowing the circumstances. He’s aware that reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, someone who actually might like shooting more than he does, still presides over the team. He just so happens to know four-time All-Star Paul George. He and Westbrook played an integral role in convincing Anthony to come join them in Oklahoma. He knows the deal, and he waived a no-trade clause to come to OKC en lieu of the big names already present, en lieu of the small market.
As Paul George sat back in his dining room chair on Saturday afternoon, a gray Nike shirt on his back and the Carmelo Anthony trade on his mind, he pondered what it all meant for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that has recovered so nicely from the loss of Kevin Durant last summer. “This feels like a championship team,” George told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m in a good place. I know Russ (Westbrook) is in a good place. Melo is motivated more than ever…You put us three together, who all have something to prove still, (and) we’re going to be a special team.”
“Well Russ and Melo, they’ve had a relationship far longer and way before me and Melo had a relationship,” George said. “Those two have been on USA teams, and then when I got the chance to play with Melo on the USA team. I expressed (and) he expressed how much we wanted to play alongside each other in an NBA uniform. And then when we both were presented this opportunity this summer, and knowing Melo wanted to opt out and wanted to move on, we’ve connected. We talked, and he expressed again – ‘Hey, I would love to come join you guys and be a part of what you guys have got going there.’ And then from there, it’s a no-brainer. We run with it, and it came to life.”
Carmelo Anthony would not have reported to training camp on Monday had the Knicks not agreed to a deal to swap him to Oklahoma City for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-rounder on Saturday, I have been informed.
“I’m happy for him. It doesn’t change my views to who we are as a team,” Draymond Green told The Undefeated. “But I’m happy for him, definitely. I don’t hate OKC. They hate me. I don’t hate them. I don’t care. You’re adding a guy who can give you 20 [points] a night. It is definitely going to make you better. I think it definitely helps them.”
With President Donald Trump’s tweet and the Golden State Warriors’ first practice on his mind, Stephen Curry didn’t learn that Carmelo Anthony was joining Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder via trade until hours after it was agreed upon Saturday. “I heard [the trade] happened right before practice, but I was out on the court. My phone was blowing up, anyways, for other reasons. I learned about it right as I was coming out here to talk to the media,” Curry said after practice at the Warriors’ training facility on Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t even know about this trade,” Curry said. “I just heard about this trade 10 seconds ago. So, they got Kanter and … I guess I am happy [for Anthony] because I know he wanted to get out and be in a situation where he felt like what he was doing on the court was actually productive. It’s going to be wild to see that trio of guys together. It’s just crazy how the West is getting stronger and stronger. It should be another tough matchup when we play them.”
Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Knicks GM Scott Perry had been talking on and off about a possible deal for weeks. Talks intensified in the 24 hours before Saturday’s agreement, league sources said. As training camp loomed next week, Perry increasingly wanted no part of the circus that awaited his franchise with media day and Anthony’s arrival both on Monday. Around the organization and Anthony, there was a belief that the unresolved saga would become a suffocating daily issue. Perry started to feel the urgency of making a deal on Friday, and engaged Oklahoma City in more serious dialogue, league sources said.
Once Anthony expanded his list of teams to include Cleveland and Oklahoma City within the past 10 days, Perry had more flexibility to move Anthony. Perry remained in contact with Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, who had the most versatile array of assets for New York and motivation to make the deal — but, ultimately, Anthony would not accept a trade to the Pacific Northwest. Anthony was intrigued with a potential partnership with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, and the stability and track record of the front office and coaching staff in Portland, but did not want to make such a dramatic geographic shift, league sources said.
New York had been willing to do an Anthony deal with his preferred choice, Houston, that included Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza, but the Rockets consistently rejected that idea, league sources said. Houston had become the focus of Anthony’s trade request after the Rockets acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul, a close friend, in late June. But Houston needed a deal to include forward Ryan Anderson, who has three years and $60 million left on his contract.
Cleveland’s package included Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, and would’ve needed to be supplemented with minimum veterans, league sources said. Cleveland would never have considered including its 2018 first-round pick via Brooklyn, league sources said. New York had been pursuing a future first-round pick from Oklahoma City, but the Thunder were unable to acquire one as part of a larger deal for New York, according to league sources.
Metta World Peace: Oh wow!!! @Oklahoma City Thunder about to be lit
Marc Berman: Like Thunder: Sources say #Knicks will announce Monday they have finally move Melo in gaining young assets
Hassan Whiteside: OK???????? …I C y’all
Brandon Jennings: The west is sooooo Lit!!! Russ PG Melo!!! It’s Lit!!!!!
Paul George: ⚡️⚡️⚡️
Jay Williams: I don’t know what else to say:
Tommy Beer: Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony all finished last season ranked in the top-20 in Usage Rate. All three are now teammates
David Aldridge: Source confirms @Carmelo Anthony trade to Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and 2018 pick (originally Chicago’s). @Adrian Wojnarowski first.
Alan Hahn: Deals were in place for a while, just needed Melo to approve. West is going to be wild as usual.
Bobby Marks: Carmelo Anthony will still have a no trade clause, only this time with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The no trade carries over in the trade.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Deal is complete, trade call Monday.
The Knicks are expected to engage both Cleveland and Oklahoma City on Saturday in hopes of completing a Carmelo Anthony trade by the beginning of training camp on Tuesday, according to league sources. Anthony expanded his list of teams to which he’d accept a trade this week to include the Cavaliers and Thunder, after limiting his choice of teams to the Rockets all summer. Anthony has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to agree to be sent to a team before New York could consummate any deal.
Ian Begley: Knicks have been informed that Oklahoma City is one of the other teams Carmelo Anthony has included on his list, team sources told ESPN
A report of the Oklahoma City Thunder being interested in Anthony is legitimate. One person close to Anthony doubts he would play in Oklahoma City but that perhaps he’d be willing to at least talk. Another simply said “Houston” when asked about the OKC report.
Bill Simmons: Have a scoop – OKC and Carmelo are officially circling each other. OKC’s Troy Weaver recruited Melo to Cuse + has known him since DMV days.
Kurt Helin: Problem with Carmelo to OKC rumors: going to need a third team because Knicks won’t want Kanter. Same challenge as Rockets/Anderson.
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December 10, 2017 | 9:55 pm EST Update
Chris Forsberg: Kyrie Irving asked if he maybe missed the mask. “Nah, I was happy to see the whole arena. I was excited to be able to see everything.” Did lament misses. “Make a damn shot. I got in the paint as much as I would have liked and my left hand just wasn’t doing it for me tonight. “
Gina Mizell: #Nuggets Will Barton on his missed pull-up jumper at the end of regulation: “I felt like I could have made it. I felt like I could have gotten a better shot. I pride myself in those moments, and tonight I didn’t deliver. I wish I could get it back and close it.”
December 10, 2017 | 7:22 pm EST Update
Jay King: Kyrie on clutch Tatum: “Some people have it and some people don’t. It’s just as simple as that. I think he’s pretty much shown that he can play, as people say, with the big boys at the end of the game.”