The Knicks’ trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder put an end to a long drawn out saga in New York. After seeking out a contender, he’s absolutely expected to make noise with Russell Westbrook and Paul George in OKC. However, the Thunder weren’t Anthony’s first choice. What’s more, there appeared to have been a greater likelihood that he was going to end up somewhere else when it was all said and done.
Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Anthony said, “A deal was done [with the Houston Rockets], early. For whatever reason, behind the scenes, it fell through,”
A trade with the Rockets was complicated from the get-go. The team didn’t have sufficient assets following their acquisition of Chris Paul, so a third, or even fourth, team needed to be involved in order for a trade to be facilitated. Houston was believed to want to Ryan Anderson in a potential trade, but his contract likely played a role in New York’s opposition.
Enes Kanter has two years left on his contract, with a player option for the 2018-19 season. Unless things go south in the Big Apple, Kanter is likely to opt in next season. Anderson makes a tad more than Kanter, but the Rockets forward is on the books for $21.26 million during the 2019-20 season. If Anderson ended up in New York, the Knicks would have been paying him and Joakim Noah a combined $40.51 million in the 2019-20 season.
With chances looking bleak for a deal with Houston, Anthony said he and George were set to team up together in Cleveland.
“Actually, it was funny because me and [Paul George] was supposed to be in Cleveland on draft night,” he said. “We were communicating about that. The deal was actually done and it got called off on draft night, so me and PG stayed connected throughout the course of the [offseason]. We never even talked about OKC, though.”
The Knicks were asking for Tristan Thompson to be included in a potential deal, but the Cavaliers were unwilling to include him, per Dave McMenamin. Cleveland was looking to deal Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye in a package instead.
While Anthony didn’t end up in Cleveland or Houston, Oklahoma City has built a strong team without giving up much assets. According to R.J. Bell of Pregame.com, the Thunder’s odds of winning the NBA Finals increased significantly. After the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City had a 75/1 odds to their first championship. With the additions of Anthony and George, the team has an 18/1 odds to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Anthony and the Thunder will welcome his former team into town during NBA opening night on Oct. 19.