On Friday morning, the Knicks’ braintrust of Steve Mills, Scott Perry, and Jeff Hornacek all met with the media and conveyed their belief that Carmelo Anthony would report to training camp and start the season with the Knicks. Just more than 24 hours later, and the team had reportedly agreed on a deal to send him to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Surely, Mills and Co. were working behind the scenes to get something done. But even as they appeared on Friday, nothing was done for sure just yet. As David Aldridge recently reported on NBATV, the two sides didn’t actually agree on anything until that Saturday, with another call to progress (and assumedly, finalize) talks still coming that morning.
For the Knicks, they held out, waiting until the last possible opportunity, before time essentially expired to explore any and all better possibilities. Anthony, too, saw the writing on the wall. Being open to accepting a trade to the Thunder provided both he and the Knicks with the crucial chance they needed to break free and start fresh.
As Aldridge reports, it didn’t take long for the Knicks to jump at the chance to get something done once Anthony demonstrated more of an open mind. Should Anthony have reported to media day in New York, his remaining presence would have sparked an absolute circus, making an early mess of a campaign in which the Knicks want to develop their young players in a more positive and uplifting culture. Allowing the hoopla around Anthony to continue would have surely prevented that, regardless of how professional he himself was. It would have created a dark looking loud of negativity and speculation, fueled by the continued lack of answers and/or a concrete solution.
Trading Anthony before the season began (even if it comes right on the heels of training camp itself) was the right move.
Even as Phil Jackson initially began to look for the right deal, one thing was abundantly clear. If the Knicks were going to trade one of the best scorers in NBA history, they would need to acquire some way to account for his departing offensive production in return. Whereas Jackson may have been looking to target a veteran via free agency or a trade to do so, Enes Kanter certainly fits the ball. As one of the most offensively efficient players in the league, so he will help move the needle and, all the while, supplies New York with another fitting piece to explore his potential or simply use his value in a trade to eventually plug other holes.
Regardless, the Knicks’ motivations to move Anthony before media day and the season began were clear. They got the job done, even if not in the smoothest fashion.