NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Carmelo Anthony era in New York is officially over.
The Knicks completed their trade with Oklahoma City on Monday morning, sending the All-Star forward to the Thunder for center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and Chicago’s 2018 second-round draft pick.
Knicks president Steve Mills thanked Anthony for his play with the Knicks but also for what he “accomplished off the court for the City of New York by using his platform to address social issues.”
Mills announced that the Knicks were donating $100,000 to Anthony’s relief efforts to aid Puerto Rico in its recovery from the recent hurricanes.
“We’ve always been consistent with you that if we ever found a basketball deal that made sense for us and made sense for Carmelo, we would execute upon that,” Mills told reporters at the Knicks’ media day.
Anthony also thanked the Knicks and New York in an online essay that starts “Dear NEW YORK.”
“I’ve known you for years now, and I must say they’ve been the best years I’ve ever had,” Anthony wrote. “You helped me become the person I am today. I just want you to know YOU will always be in my heart. No matter what happens, I will always LOVE YOU.”
General manager Scott Perry insisted the Knicks didn’t pull the trigger on the trade Saturday simply to avoid a potentially awkward situation of having Anthony, who the Knicks had publicly been shopping for months, report for training camp.
“We were perfectly ready that Carmelo Anthony was going to be back in a Knick uniform, because that’s where things were at at that time. … “Perry said. “By Friday evening and into Saturday morning early hours, things really picked up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and we felt at that time that there was going to be something there, to our point all along, that was going to make a little bit of sense for us as a basketball organization and made some sense for Carmelo as well. So we acted upon that.”
McDermott, 25, played in 66 games for the Bulls and Thunder last season, starting five. He averaged 9.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Kanter, also 25, came off the bench in all 72 games he played with Oklahoma City last season. He averaged 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.5 assists.
Perry said both players have “some solid skill sets.”
“Enes is a young man who’s proven he can score the basketball on the interior, ranked in the top five players in the league in terms of his ability to score off the bench, and obviously Doug McDermott’s ability to make shots from the 3-point range,” Perry said. “And we were also able to acquire a very valuable draft asset. So we felt that the timing was right and what we were going to get back was something we could work with in a positive manner.”
Kristaps Porzingis, who now becomes the face of the Knicks, said appreciated Anthony for mentoring him over his first two seasons.
“I’m really grateful to have had him for these two seasons,” Porzingis said. “I had the opportunity to learn from him around, be around him day to day. And he was a great leader for us. He was a great mentor for me. He was like a big brother to me. So I’m really thankful for him being around me. I have nothing but respect for Carmelo, and I wish him the best in the future.”
Anthony will see his old teammates soon: The Knicks open the regular season at Oklahoma City on Oct. 19.
Former team president Phil Jackson spent the latter part of his time in New York making it clear he wanted to move Anthony. But a deal was difficult because the 33-year-old forward has two years and about $54 million left on his contract, along with the ability to decline any trade.
He had long maintained that he wanted to stay in New York, but the constant losing and a chance to play with a talented lineup convinced him it was finally time to go.
After making the postseason each of his first 10 seasons, he has been on the sidelines the last four years and said at the end of last season his priority was a chance to win. He wouldn’t have that in New York, where the Knicks are emphasizing youth and have little proven talent with which to surround Anthony.
But he is close with Westbrook and George and should fit in nicely. He can possibly settle into the spot-up shooter role he’s played in the Olympics, where he’s won a record three gold medals and is the career scoring leader for the U.S. men.
The trade ends an unfulfilling 6 1/2-year run in New York for Anthony, where he could never shake his reputation of an elite scorer who can’t carry a team to a ring. The Knicks made the playoffs his first three seasons and reached the second round in 2013, when Anthony led the league with 28.7 points per game. But after that they never seriously proved they could do anything consistently beyond make headlines.
And Anthony was right in the middle of that, with constant trade speculation after Jackson’s criticism of Anthony’s game. Jackson and the Knicks parted ways in June and though the Knicks kept looking, Mills and Perry told Anthony they wouldn’t accept a trade that would hinder their plans to rebuild through youth.
It didn’t help that Anthony had told the Knicks he would accept trades only to Houston and Cleveland, but a deal was finally found when he agreed to add Oklahoma City to his list of destinations.
Anthony moved into the top 25 on the NBA’s career scoring list last season, and maybe the Thunder can help him reach elusive team success.
Jackson noted that the Knicks hadn’t been able to win with Anthony, though one division title and three playoff berths give Anthony the best resume of anyone who played for the team in the 21st century.
He had higher aspirations when he pushed Denver to trade him to New York in 2010, a deal that finally went through in February 2011. But the Knicks gave up much of their young talent and future assets to get him, hindering their ability to fortify the team around their leading scorer in recent years.
Anthony averaged 22.4 points last season and made his 10th All-Star Game, though that was the second straight season he finished well off his career average of 24.8 per game.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)