The Carmelo Anthony saga in New York is over, but did the Knicks receive the right offer in return?
As rumors begin to swirl regarding trade discussions between New York and the rest of the NBA, some interesting names are emerging as pieces of a deal. Not only does this give more clarity into the type of market that existed for Anthony, but it allows a more educated analysis of what the Knicks ended up getting.
Let us see how this affects all parties involved moving forward, in addition to other buzz percolating throughout the league.
Cleveland Offer Not Enough
As a refresher, Anthony waived his no-trade clause Saturday to join the Oklahoma City Thunder after months of turmoil between him and the floundering Knicks organization. In return, New York received stretch big man Enes Kanter, sharpshooter Doug McDermott and the Chicago Bulls' 2018 second-round pick.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City were the three teams Anthony agreed to waive his clause for, per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. While New York did not seem to get too far in talks with Houston, it seems there were serious discussions with Cleveland.
"New York asked Cleveland to include Tristan Thompson in its offer," McMenamin wrote. "The Cavs were steadfast in their package featuring Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, and negotiations fell apart."
Some, including MSG's Alan Hahn, criticized the Knicks for agreeing to take on bad contracts in the deal, which is definitely a legitimate concern when the player going the other way is still one of the NBA's top scorers (his 22.4 points per game ranked 22nd last season). This complaint largely centers around Kanter, who is set to make over $39 million over the next two seasons. McDermott has one year and $3.29 million left on his deal.
Kanter is undoubtedly a skilled scorer, as he averaged 14.3 points per game last season in just 21.3 minutes a night. His defensive struggles severely ate away at his minutes, which will not help a Knicks team that tied for 22nd in the NBA with 108 points conceded per game a year ago. Still, his offense will help when paired with Kristaps Porzingis, another forward capable forcing big men out of the paint while being able to work smaller players.
When compared to the Cavaliers' reported offer though, New York clearly made a better choice.
A rebuilding team like the Knicks has no business taking on veteran role players like Frye, Shumpert and Thompson. None of these three players come close to matching either Kanter or McDermott offensively, while Shumpert and Thompson are nothing more than solid defensive and rebounding pieces. Frye, 34, may be a solid shooter at over 40 percent from deep a year ago, but he is nine years older than McDermott, who has shot at least 36.5 percent from downtown in the last three seasons.
Speaking of bad contracts, the Cleveland offer would have been simply abysmal for New York. Thompson will make over $42 million for the next three years, while Shumpert is due over $21 million in the next two seasons. Frye is in the last year of his deal. New York ended up saving a substantial amount of money while receiving more talent on the court.
The fact that the Cavaliers were not willing to give up anything more than this measly package for a player like Anthony, who happens to be good friends with LeBron James, shows their commitment to Kevin Love. He is often overlooked when compared to the other two superstars Cleveland possessed, but he has averaged a double-double or just under in each of the last three seasons.
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It should come as no surprise that he has the full confidence of his head coach Tyrone Lue, per ESPN.com's Zach Lowe:
"Kevin is going to have the best year that he's had here. I thought he was great anyway. You keep bringing up Bosh. What did Bosh average in Miami? Kevin averaged almost 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] with two other All-Stars. If you are on a championship-caliber team, you have to sacrifice. But this year is going to be a big opportunity for him. We're going to play through him more. He's going to get those elbow touches again."
Love seems to take the talk around him in stride though, calling every summer "Groundhog's Day" when asked about trade rumors, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor:
"I don't know if numb is the word. Some of the things are laughable. I know this is our job and this is our business and this is what we do for a living. But at the end of the day it's a business. We've seen guys on several teams and throughout the course of history of the game, maybe a coach or a GM or a certain player has sworn that either they're going to keep him or they're going to sign this player, free agency and they get a better deal. It's the better offer theory."
It appears the team is content with a core of James, Love and Isaiah Thomas, enough so to keep Love out of any deal for Anthony. This is a smart play, considering Cleveland already has enough scorers and needs someone with Love's multi-dimensional skill set on both sides of the floor.
As for the Knicks, they still got a poor deal for Anthony. It seems they were committed to trading him no matter what and ended up giving him away more so than acquiring useful future assets. New York is also fortunate Cleveland decided not to part with Thompson, as it would have turned this trade into an unmitigated disaster for the Knicks.
Whether a player like Kanter is later flipped for a nice haul has yet to be determined, but taking the better of two bad deals for Anthony still does not make this a strong move.
Denver Locking Down Harris
One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2014 NBA draft, Gary Harris looks to be cashing in for his rise to star status.
According to CBSSports.com' Matt Moore, the Denver Nuggets and Harris are closing in on an extension.
Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com speculated the deal could be between $16 million and $18 million per year over four seasons for it to make sense for both sides. He has a point, considering Harris' rapid progress as a guard.
In all three seasons in Denver, Harris has seen a steady rise in his points per game, assists per game, field-goal percentage and three-point percentage from one year to the next. That culminated in 14.9 points per game, 2.9 assists per game, a 50.2 field-goal percentage and a 42 percent mark from three in his most recent campaign.
Harris is a quick slasher who has meshed extremely well with Nikola Jokic, as Harris can get into the lane to draw defenders from the big man while also finding space to utilize Jokic's superb passing skills. He was a big reason why Jokic averaged 4.9 assists last year.
Locking up Jokic will be the team's next step, as he has just over $3 million left on his deal over the next two seasons. Coupled with the emergence of young guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray, Denver has a fantastic core moving forward.
Add in guys like Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee, and the Nuggets have the makings of a team capable of winning a playoff series this upcoming season.