The Oklahoma City Thunder have done it once again. They’ve managed to complete a trade that no one thought they would. Before this trade went down, no one thought they’d be able to get Carmelo and his one-year, $27 million deal off their books, but they did the impossible.
Details of the Three-Team Trade
Oklahoma City Receive: Dennis Schroder (Hawks), Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot (Hawks)
Atlanta Hawks Receive: Carmelo Anthony (Thunder), Justin Anderson (76ers), 2022 first round pick (Thunder)
Philidelphia 76ers Receive: Mike Muscala (Hawks)
For the Thunder, this is a huge win. They gave away an extremely inefficient Carmelo Anthony who just didn’t seem to mesh with Russell Westbrook and Paul George last season. Carmelo shot just 40% from the field and scored only 16.2 PPG, which were both career lows for him. Most importantly, they are going to save around $62 million on luxury tax by making this move. All the while, they were able to trade Melo to improve their team. Dennis Schroder averaged 19.4 PPG and 6.2 APG last season with the abysmal Hawks. In a lot of ways, he is exactly what the Thunder needed. They were looking for a young guard like Schroder that is shifty and quick to offset Andre Roberson horrendous offensive game. I would expect Schroder to come off the bench and play crunchtime minutes late in games or even start if he plays well. The Thunder no longer has to have Andre Roberson out there as a free-throw liability, so I expect Schroder to be out there in late-game situations. If Schroder excels with the Thunder, he could be in contention for Sixth-Man of the Year. For the Thunder to be able to improve their team and save $62 million in the midst of their Melo divorce is great for the team moving forward.
The Hawks were able to completely shift gears and focus on building around Trae Young with this trade. By getting rid of Schroder’s 3 year, $45 million deal, they’re able to free up cap space and give the keys to the franchise to Young. This might seem like the Hawks lost this trade from afar, but once Carmelo buys out of his contract, they’ll be set to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year. They’re clearly rebuilding, and Schroder was a piece that they believe had reached his ceiling and was blocking their prospect from having a starting position. They also get Justin Anderson, who is a great young 3-and-D type of player that could be a nice piece for a rebuilding team. If I were a Hawks fan, I would be bracing for a rough few seasons as the team looks to get high draft picks and build their team around Trae Young.
Philidelphia essentially gave up Justin Anderson for Mike Muscala. I would equate these two guys as young players that are nice pieces in a system that aren’t going to drastically change a team. The difference is that Muscala is a big man and Anderson is a wing. With the addition of Wilson Chandler as a small forward, the 76ers didn’t need Anderson as much as they did before. For them, this was a nice way to get a back up big man that can play some good minutes off the bench when Dario Saric or Joel Embiid are resting.
What’s Next for Melo?
Carmelo Anthony is expected to buy out of his contract with the Hawks. Once he clears waivers, he will be an unrestricted free agent. It’s rumored that Melo has been awaiting a banana boat reunion with his buddy, Chris Paul, in Houston. People around the league think that, if Carmelo is able to become a free agent, it is more than likely that he will end up a Houston Rocket. In my opinion, Carmelo in Houston seems like a great idea. However, Carmelo in Oklahoma City seemed like a great idea. That didn’t pan out. If Carmelo is able to return to his Olympic form, he could be a tremendous spot up shooter in a Houston system that relies on shooters like him. However, he would be a liability of defense, which would be a major downgrade from Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. I think there’s a good chance that Melo could complicate things in Houston. I don’t expect them to be the same 65-win team they were last year. Losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute is going to be a lot heavier of a blow than a lot of people expect. Carmelo is a nice addition, but he doesn’t offset those major losses.