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If Carmelo Really Wants to Win, There's Only One Place He Can: OKC
February 12, 2017

In July 2014, Carmelo Anthony signed a 5 year $124 million contract with the New York Knicks. Apparently before the ink dried, Phil Jackson realized what a huge mistake this was and immediately began trying to trade him. Finding a taker for Carmelo wouldn't be the easiest trade to make especially because Phil's spirit animal told him to throw a no trade clause into the contract. Carmelo has said he only wants to go to a contender. The problem is: no contender wants a 32 year old ball hog, who doesn't play defense and has missed the end of the last two seasons due to injury.


Cleveland isn't giving up Kevin Love. The Clippers aren't sending Blake Griffin (or even DeAndre Jordan) to the Eastern Conference. It's also safe to assume that Steph Curry isn't on the trading block. But there is one team in that could use Carmelo Anthony: the Oklahoma City Thunder.


After making four (FOUR) Western Conference Finals in 6 years with the tandem of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, Durant took his backback and nonprescription glasses to the Golden State Warriors. This left a gaping hole in the Thunder roster that was constructed specifically with the talents of Westbrook and Durant in mind. Durant's absence has resulted in the Thunder dropping to 7th in the West after finishing 3rd last season.


While they won't win a championship as currently constructed, the roster is still solid. They are the definition of being "one player away." Westbrook is an MVP candidate and Andre Roberson, Steven Adams, and Victor Oladipo are all excellent defenders. The team is ranked 7th in defensive efficiency. The problem is without Westbrook the team's offensive rating craters. Enter Carmelo.


One major impediment to the success of any Carmelo deal is that the Knicks are over the salary cap and would therefore need to take on as much salary as they were getting losing if they trade with a team that's also over the cap. Guess who is 9+ million under the cap? That gives the Thunder more wiggle room than most teams that are in a position to make a deal with the Knicks.


Bill Simmons talked about the pieces the Dallas Mavericks put around Dirk Nowitzki in 2011 and how the Knicks could replicate that formula. They would need: a defensive minded rim protector (Adams), an elite wing defender (Roberson), and a point guard to distribute the ball and run the show (did I mention Westbrook is STILL averaging a triple double?). The Thunder also have the perfect piece of trade bait in Enes Kanter.


Enes Kanter is a solid rebounder and offensive center who makes $17 million this season and is under contract for three more seasons. Per 36 minutes this season he's averaging 24 and 11 (compared to 24 and 6 for Carmelo) including 4 offensive boards per game. That kind of interior presence will take a lot of the strain off of Kristaps Porzingis while also allowing him to play on the perimeter as a stretch-4.


Kanter broke his arm after punching a chair a few weeks ago so he won't be available until well after the All Star Break. That's great for the Knicks who would love to snag a top pick in this year's loaded draft class (can you imagine Lonzo Ball throwing lobs to Kristaps?) and have no incentive to win another game. The Thunder offense needs a shot in the arm even when their second best player is on the court.


The only sticking point left is convincing Carmelo (and by extention Lala) to move to Oklahoma City. That's not going to be easy, but I think by pointing out they've never won a championship could appeal to Melo's history with the Syracuse Orange. He brought the first title to college basketball's frozen north and he could do it again as a member of the Thunder.


In summation:

The Thunder send Enes Kanter and a second round pick to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder make the playoffs and hopefully make a run. The Knicks bottom out and get a young running mate for budding superstar Kristaps Porzingis. The only down side is James Dolan will still on the team.

Smigoversen thinks this could work

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