Storyline: Carmelo Anthony to Thunder?

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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.”

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.”
5 months ago via ESPN

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.
5 months ago via ESPN

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.

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.
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February 22, 2018 | 3:33 pm EST Update
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February 22, 2018 | 3:28 pm EST Update
Hours before he’d turn back the clock with a nod to Vince Carter that wound up winning him the Verizon Slam Dunk contest, Donovan Mitchell took another look into the past, thinking back on his earliest NBA memory, the first time the league he’d one day join actually became real to him. “Man, that’s a tough one,” the Utah Jazz rookie told Yahoo Sports during Saturday’s media session. “The first one that comes to mind, I would say, is probably ‘The Decision’, with LeBron.” Makes sense. Mitchell was 13 years old when LeBron James went on ESPN to tell Jim Gray that he’d chosen to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat in free agency. It was a huge deal — “That really changed the league, from that point on,” Mitchell said — that had nearly 10 million sets of eyeballs glued to television sets all over the United States.
“I was there, when he had The Decision,” Mitchell explained. “So that would probably be the biggest one. It was in Greenwich, Conn., and I went to school in Greenwich [at Greenwich Country Day School],” he said. “So, as a big LeBron fan in the sixth grade, I forced my mom to let me go. I wanted him to go to Miami. I wanted him to get his first ring.” Young Donovan was glad to see one of his favorite players chart a course for a more successful future. Not everybody at the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club shared his enthusiasm. “The people there who were Knicks fans … they weren’t too happy about it,” Mitchell said. “I almost got hit in the head with a Snapple bottle because they were just throwing stuff around outside. It was cool. I was just celebrating, so it was pretty cool.”
One popular touchstone for the 19-to-22-year-old cohort? The legendary dunker who inspired Mitchell’s final-round throwdown on Saturday night. “I mean, I was always into the game — I didn’t have TV or cable or Internet, so I didn’t really watch anybody for a while,” said Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. “But watching Vince Carter in the Dunk Contest, and watching him play, he was my favorite player.” “You know, I watched Vince Carter,” added Murray’s countryman and Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, from Mississauga, Ontario. “With the lobs, he just had Toronto … everybody was wearing a purple Toronto jersey. He just made me want to play basketball, and want to dunk, and want to be a part of all that.”