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Happy NBA Media Day u bums. A lot of things are happening in the basketball universe. Players and coaches are talking to the media as a write this, so I’ll save that for tomorrows HHR. Let’s go…
The Knicks Traded Melo
The Melo Era was… look there’s no way to capture all the complexities of the Melo era in a thoughtful, balanced light here without turning this into a novel. We can look back on it in time. But the past is in the past.
That sentiment… that’s what’s important right now. Regardless of how the Knicks handled this whole situation, or of whether the trade was fair, or of how Melo will perform for his new team… It’s over. It’s all in the past now. The Melo era needed to end and it did. And now everyone can finally, mercifully move forward.
For the first time in two decades, the Knicks are planning for the future and acting with a long-term mindset. That’s what smart organizations do.
Did the Knicks get “fair value” for Melo? Absolutely not. And that’s fine. What people have to realize is that this doesn’t make it a bad trade. Smart teams make transaction that help them accomplish their goals. The Knicks goals this offseason were to 1) shed the baggage of the Melo era and move forward, 2) get worse in the short term, and 3) build a strong, young, singularly-focused foundation.
All three of those goals are accomplished here.
Melo is gone, along with all of the attention and controversy that would come with the never-ending trade speculation he’d receive this season. That’s a good thing.
Replacing Carmelo Anthony with Eyes Kanter and Doug McDermott makes the Knicks a worse team now. That’s a good thing. They are also on contracts that do not limit the Knicks long-term. McDermott has a qualifying offer of $4.5 for next season or can simply be let go as a Restricted Free Agent. Kanter’s contract is bad now ($17.8 mil this year, and a player option for $18.6 mil next season), but with only two years remaining, he either 1) will become a valuable expiring contract next season or 2) simply comes off the books right when the Knicks need him to come off the books in the summer of 2019. Bad short term contracts like that are okay when your short term goal is to be in the lottery. Kanter and McDermott lower the ceiling now without killing the books long term. That’s a good thing.
And lastly… they can finally, truly build around Porzingis. It’s his team now. He’s the guy. He has to shoulder the load on the court, assert himself as a leading man, and face the music for the team’s failures. There’s no hiding behind Melo. There’s no looming controversies in the form of Melo trade talks or Phil Jackson comments. There’s no triangle offense. There’s no questions about the direction of the team now.
It’s a bad basketball team that is expected to be bad and will be allowed to be bad by a GM in Scott Perry that understands the long game and a fan base that’s been DYING to see this team start fresh. They will be young and competitive and free from the drama of the last 20 years and Knicks fans are smart enough to appreciate all that no matter how many games they lose.
They’ll be one of the five worst teams. They’ll have a shot at Doncic or Porter or Bagley as another young star to team with Porzingis and Ntilikina. And they got themselves a nice asset in that Bulls second rounder that will be right there in the 31-35 range. That’s a great, low cost pick that can be used on overlooked upperclassmen or international talent – one of the only things the Knicks have done well over the last few years.
Was it the best trade ever? No. But what matters most is that the Knicks were able to accomplish their own goals. There was no better offer coming. There was no first round draft pick, no shorter contracts, none of that coming from Cleveland or Houston – the only other teams Melo was willing to drop his No Trade Clause for. This was the best trade possible given the circumstances – and it was good for all parties.
We’ll get more into the specifics of Melo-on-OKC in the season preview stuff over the next two weeks. For now, I love the move. I love Melo getting a change of scenery and a chance to play out his roll as Olympic Melo for a full NBA season. Third banana, countless open looks, less responsibility. It’s the perfect roll for where he is at this point in his career. And I love OKC going all in with these three at a very, very low cost. Will it work? Will they fit together? I’ll save that for later this week. But the act of going all in on a superstar talent for a very low cost is the right move for an organization like OKC with where they’re at right now. They have the pieces to be a serious contender. Replacing Kanter and McDermott with Melo significantly raises their ceiling as a contender now without sacrificing a lot in the long term.
I’m still trying to digest it all. So maybe this is all just a jumbled mess of thoughts. Maybe I’m just so happy to move on from the Melo era and that high is giving me this optimistic view of it all. I don’t know. But I’m happy with how this turned out. I’m over the past. I’m not gonna dwell on what the Knicks should have done or how they could’ve handled it all better. That’s a sunk cost. What matters is that it’s over and everyone is moving forward and in a better place than they were last week.
The Conferences Are… Slightly Unbalanced
This is a big part of a season preview blog I’ve been working on so I won’t step on that here. But god damn is that stat insane. There’s enough talent in the league that I don’t think we’ll see anyone preposterous like Dennis Schroder make the All Star team in the East. But it will be insane to see the list of guys who don’t make the West roster this year.
Dwyane Wade Pulled An All-Time Finesse
Round of applause. Round of applause for Dwyane Wade finessing the immortally incompetent Chicago Bulls front office out of nearly $16 million in the span of three months. Well done. Well fucking done.
There’s been a big focus during media day on the whole Trump/protests/stick to sports/etc. topic. I can’t start down that path here without including the clips from media day, so we’ll save it all for tomorrow morning. LeBron, Wall, Popovich. Let’s digest what they’re saying and then get into it tomorrow.