Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder have a mutual interest. Is it realistic?

anthony westbrook

At around 11 am on Monday, Bill Simmons of The Ringer decided to drop this little tidbit on the masses:

First off, what the hell does circling each other mean? I remember when I was in 5th grade, I got into a little tiff with another guy on the playground during recess and we connected at the shoulders and kept circling around talking trash to each other until our friends intervened. You know the whole, “Do something!”, “No, you do something!” type elementary brawl. So is that what the Thunder and Anthony are doing? I doubt it.

Instead, I think this is just a case of someone within the Syracuse inner circle putting out that Weaver and Anthony have spoken and the Thunder are interested if Anthony is interested. Nothing more, nothing less. If anything, I think this is more of a play by people in Anthony’s camp to leverage Houston into actually getting the deal done.

But let’s say, by chance, that Anthony would consider going to Oklahoma City, even for just one season. Why would he go to OKC instead of another team? What would Anthony on the Thunder look like? Is this even possible? I’m going to explore these questions a little deeper to make some sense of all this craziness.

Why Would He Choose To Go To Oklahoma City?

Before we move onto to any of his current options, we have to review Carmelo Anthony’s history. Drafted in what many consider to be the the best draft class since the 1984 draft, Anthony came out of Syracuse with a national championship and a reputation for being a winner. Fourteen years later, Anthony is only one out of the Top-5 picks from that draft to not have won a championship (I know, I know….Darko Milicic….but he still won a title his rookie season). In fact, he’s the only one out of that group to have never played in an NBA Finals. As a player, that has to gnaw at Anthony a little. Half of his banana boat crew can flash multiple rings, while he and Chris Paul are left to wonder what a trip to the Finals would feel like.

With all that said, if Anthony wants to even sniff the opportunity of getting to the Finals, he’s going to have to switch to another team. The New York Knicks are nowhere close to contending and this is Anthony’s final guaranteed year of his contract.

With Cleveland losing a lot of its luster with Kyrie Irving demanding a trade, the only teams that would make sense for Carmelo Anthony to chase a title would be in the Western Conference. Houston has been hotly talked about as a possible destination for Anthony, and they definitely have the firepower to help Anthony reach his long sought after goals. A combination of Paul, Anthony, and James Harden would be difficult for any team to contain on the offensive end of the floor.

Another option, though, is the Thunder. Putting Anthony on the same team as Russell Westbrook and Paul George would be another match-up nightmare for opponents. In fact, the collective of Westbrook and George has more experience in the postseason than that of Harden and Paul. And as a trade partner, the Thunder have a lot more to offer to New York than does Houston.

Where Houston is reportedly only offering Ryan Anderson and spare parts, the Thunder can offer young assets and a valuable 2nd rounder. A good package from the Thunder would include some combination of Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, a young player (Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant, or Doug McDermott), and Chicago’s 2018 2nd rounder (likely in the 31-36 range). The Knicks get a good post-player in Kanter, a developing prospect, and a valuable pick in Chicago’s 2nd rounder. A deal like that would allow Anthony to join a team that is not depleted of talent and ready to compete for a championship.

What Would Anthony on the Thunder Look Like?

One of the biggest questions if Anthony does somehow become a member of the Thunder is how he would fit. The only position he could slide into on the starting line-up would be at power forward. That means the Thunder would roll out a starting line-up of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams. I know….salivation-inducing.

Throughout the course of the game, the Thunder could stagger their line-ups to always have 1-2 of the Big 3 out there on the floor. There would be no rest against a team like the Thunder. It’s the same strategy used by the Golden State Warriors. At all times, they have two of either Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green out there on the floor.

In addition, the Thunder would still have firepower off the bench. Patrick Patterson, Alex Abrines, and Raymond Felton would still remain on the team as reserves. Also, who ever is left over from the trade, be it Ferguson, McDermott, and/or Grant would still be able to provide valuable minutes. In essence, the addition of Anthony would make the Thunder the deepest team in the league.

As far as style of play, the Thunder would likely be on par with the Warriors and Rockets in terms of pace and space. George and Anthony at both forward positions would allow the middle to completely open up for Westbrook to operate from. In addition, the Thunder’s personnel would allow them to play different styles. But, most importantly, their personnel will allow them to keep up with, and possibly overtake, the likes of the Warriors.

Is This Even Possible?

I put the possibility of this happening at less than 5%. Anthony does not strike me as a small-market guy. He loves living in New York and has many business ventures in that area of the country. Even if it just for a season, if the possibility is there for him to join a team in a big market, I think he goes there first.

Secondly, Chris Paul is one of his good friends. Paul is part of the banana boat crew and the other member of that group to have never tasted a trip to the Finals. Much like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade joining forces to dominate for a 4-year span in Miami, I could see Anthony looking to do the same with his buddy Paul (with Harden playing the Bosh role).

Another thing to look out for from the Thunder’s end is the fact that Presti is a smoke screen setter. If this news was made public, there’s likely a reason for it. Whether it’s to drive the price up for Houston or whether Oklahoma City has something else in the works, you can bet there are some ulterior motives from the Thunder front office if their intended target isn’t Anthony.

In the end, I think Anthony ends up in Houston with Paul and Harden. Another super team to compete against in the West. The era of the super teams is here to stay and the arms race is oh so tantalizing.

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