For the second time this summer the Thunder came out of seemingly nowhere to stun the NBA and acquire a superstar in a trade. After already dealing for Paul George in June, Oklahoma City shipped Enes Kanter to New York in exchange for Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony isn’t what he once was, but the move was another strong statement to both Russell Westbrook and Paul George that they are committed to making moves and trying to keep both players happy and around long term. While the Thunder once again swooped in to snag a player after not being included in reported trade rumors, teams like the Rockets, Cavs, and Blazers were left hanging.
According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, like with Paul George and Indiana, the Knicks wanted to get Melo out of the Eastern Conference and thus were not as demanding in working with the Thunder as with other potential trade partners in the East, namely the Cavs.
As for what the Cavs and Knicks discussed as potential trade pieces, Cleveland was hoping to get out from under Iman Shumpert’s deal in the trade but not give up any core pieces. New York, on the other hand, was asking for Tristan Thompson in return, according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
The Knicks wanted Thompson, 26, a center who like James is represented by Rich Paul. The Cavs told them no. Thompson is under contract for three more seasons, beginning at $16.4 million this year. Cleveland was willing to do a deal that would’ve cleared some contracts off the books, such as sending Iman Shumpert ($11 million this year) and others.
It’s not surprising that Cleveland wouldn’t be willing to give up Thompson, considering he’s their best defensive big man and he’s under contract for three more years. The Knicks were obviously hoping to pull in a younger front court complementary piece for Kristaps Porzingis out of a Melo trade and in the end settled on Kanter, which is a better haul than taking on Ryan Anderson from the Rockets.