New York Knicks Must Push for Carmelo Anthony to OKC
Feb 15, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles the ball around Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson (21) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks can’t get a Carmelo Anthony deal done with the Houston Rockets, so it makes sense to look to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The plethora of rumors about a Carmelo Anthony trade to the Houston Rockets made the transaction between the two teams seem inevitable. Anthony’s no trade clause combined with the limited market for the ten-time All-Star meant the Knicks would need to act fast.

Then a funny thing happened. New York hired Scott Perry to be their general manager, and he isn’t as desperate to run Carmelo out of town as Phil Jackson was. After Perry had been hired, the team put trade discussions involving Anthony on pause.

While all reports suggest that Anthony still wants out (and to Houston), the Knicks don’t need to send him there. The Rockets want them to take and Ryan Anderson and his contract. They can find a better deal elsewhere.

Bill Simmons of The Ringer reported Monday that Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder are “circling each other.” Frank Isola of The New York Daily News later confirmed Simmons’ report, saying that Anthony would be “willing to at least talk” about playing in OKC.

While the odds of Melo going to play in one of the league’s smallest markets in Oklahoma are incredibly slim, New York needs to push for it. The franchise can get back better assets in a deal from the Thunder than from Houston.

The Rockets gave up their best assets to the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal. The best they can offer is Ryan Anderson, but with that contract, he should be off the table for the rebuilding Knicks. Oklahoma City isn’t rich with assets, but they have better young pieces than Houston.

Enes Kanter is the first name that jumps off the page. Knicks fans are going to complain about his cap hit next season ($17.9 million) and his player option for 2018-19.

Here’s an idea though, let’s look on the bright side. Kanter is only 25-years-old. New York needs rebounding help. They were fifth in offensive rebounding percentage, but 30th in defensive rebounding percentage last season.

OKC was first in ORB percentage and third in DRB percentage due in large part to Kanter’s play. The big man from Turkey was in the top ten in offensive rebound rate for the third straight season and averaged a remarkable 11.3 rebounds per 36 minutes.

That’s more than Russell Westbrook, FYI. Kanter pulled down seven more total rebounds than Kristaps Porzingis did last season in more than 600 fewer minutes. The combination of Kanter and Willy Hernangomez on the glass would be nearly as deadly as the two-headed monster of Kanter and Steven Adams in OKC.

If you don’t know much about Enes Kanter, you’re probably wondering right now why he would even be available in a trade. Well, the guy stinks on defense. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. He’s so bad that he was unplayable in the playoffs against the Rockets.

We’re talking about one of the best offensive rebounders and post scorers in the game, so if he’s being yanked than it must be for a huge reason. It’s still worth it for New York to take a shot on Kanter.

He costs less than Ryan Anderson, and the Knicks already have Porzingis to fill that stretch four role that Anderson does to perfection. Kanter’s 25 and Anderson just turned 29. It could be a matter of simply picking one over the other.

Oklahoma City has three young players on reasonable contracts: Jerami Grant (23), Alex Abrines (23), and Doug McDermott (25).

The contracts of Grant and McDermott expire at the end of 2017-18 while Abrines is signed through 2018-19.

Abrines makes a little less than $6 million per season over the next two years. He’s renowned for his shooting. According to NBA.com, Abrines converted on 40.7 percent on catch and shoot three-point attempts. The Spanish prospect was also 40.7 percent on corner threes.

Grant had the best shooting season of his career. He converted on a career-high 37.1 percent of his three-point attempts. It was a massive improvement over his first two seasons in which he averaged a combined 27.8 percent. Grant was even better than Abrines from the corners – 43.3 percent.

Doug McDermott regressed this season after shooting the lights out in 2015-16. He was 42.5 percent from three-point range and looked well on his way to becoming one of the best spot up three-point shooters in the Association. Hopefully, 2016-17 was an outlier season for Dougie McBuckets.

The Knicks established that they’re not just going to roll over and give Melo his awkward reunion with Mike D’Antoni in Houston. Steve Mills, Scott Perry, and the rest of the new front office should be focused on a trade with Oklahoma City instead.

 

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