The National Basketball Association (NBA) has another superteam to add to its list of championship contenders. The New York Knicks agreed to trade 10-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder Sept. 23. The Thunder will send center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and a future second-round pick to the Knicks in return for the superstar.
Anthony, 33, will join an Oklahoma City core that consists of reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and four-time All-Star forward Paul George. Together, the three superstars will form a new “Big Three,” making the new-look Thunder yet another formidable Western Conference contender alongside the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs.
The trade follows a summer swirling with trade rumors surrounding Anthony and the New York Knicks.
In April, former Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson said that Anthony would “be better off somewhere else,” according to NBA.com. Jackson continued shopping Anthony throughout the league until June 28, when the Knicks and Jackson agreed to mutually part ways.
With Jackson’s unexpected departure, some believed the Knicks would keep Anthony on the roster. However, new General Manager Scott Perry reiterated that the Knicks would still attempt to unload Anthony to another team.
Anthony’s 2014 contract included a rare no-trade clause, which allowed Anthony to veto any potential trade. That made swapping him a major challenge for the Knicks.
Previous reports suggested that Anthony would only waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets. However, Anthony recently expanded his list to include the Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The trade marks Anthony’s third NBA team. He was originally drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2003 NBA Draft and played there for almost eight seasons.
The acquisition of Anthony is only one of Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti’s blockbuster moves this summer. In July, the Thunder acquired a disgruntled forward Paul George from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis.
The reshaped Thunder team will look to dethrone the reigning NBA Finals Champions, the Golden State Warriors, who’ve won the Western Conference the last three years. However, the Thunder must first reconcile with the loss of key rotational players in both Kanter and McDermott.
Kanter, 25, was a first-round draft pick by the Utah Jazz in 2011 and typically served as the first man off the bench for the Thunder last season. He averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season. McDermott was a lottery pick by the Chicago Bulls in 2014. He averaged 6.6 points per game for the Thunder after being acquired during the February trade deadline.
Familiar faces will reunite Oct. 19 when the Knicks travel to Oklahoma City to begin the regular season.