Carmelo Anthony didn’t come close to achieving his goal of leading the Knicks to a championship, so he’s moving on to chase one for himself.
The Anthony Era ended Saturday when the Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder agreed on a trade for the 10-time All-Star, league sources confirmed. The Knicks are sending Anthony to Oklahoma City for 6-11 center Enes Kanter, 6-8 small forward Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick that the Thunder acquired from Chicago.
According to a source, the deal won’t be official until Monday, which is when the Knicks will hold their annual media day.
The trade before the start of training camp allows the Knicks and Anthony to avoid drama and distraction. Interestingly, the Knicks open the regular season against the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Oct. 19.
Anthony, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, has agreed to waive the clause for the deal to go through. He also will waive his trade kicker, a source said.
ESPN.com was the first to report all the particulars of the trade.
Anthony, 33, initially listed Houston as his preferred destination, hoping to chase a title with Chris Paul and James Harden. But when the Knicks couldn’t reach an accord with the Rockets, they asked Anthony to expand his list. He did so recently to include the Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now, after missing the playoffs for the past four seasons with the Knicks, Anthony has a chance to go deep into the postseason with the Thunder. He will team with league MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George, whom Oklahoma City acquired from the Indiana Pacers over the summer, to make a formidable trio in the loaded Western Conference. They hope to have enough talent to challenge the Golden State Warriors, who are the reigning NBA champions.
The Knicks can begin their youth movement for real, and they officially will become Kristaps Porzingis’ team.
They’ve been saying they’re building around Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr. — whom they signed to a four-year, $71-million contract during the summer — first-round pick Frank Ntilikina and Ron Baker. All are 25 or younger.
Knicks president Steve Mills said Friday that “our plan” was that Anthony would be on the team when camp opened, and coach Jeff Hornacek said he would remain a starter. But things changed quickly as both sides felt a sense of urgency to get something done. Mills and new general manager Scott Perry were able to find a deal that they liked and Anthony would accept.
The snag with the Rockets was that the Knicks wouldn’t take back Ryan Anderson, who has three years and $60 million remaining on his contract. They also couldn’t find a third team to take him.
With Saturday’s trade, the Knicks added a quality big man and a potential high second-round pick and didn’t take back much salary that would handcuff them going forward.
Kanter has averaged 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in six NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz and Thunder. He has two years and $36.6 million remaining on his contract. The second year is a player option.
McDermott, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, has averaged 8.0 points in three seasons for the Bulls and Thunder and has shot 39.4 percent from three-point range.
Anthony was acquired by the Knicks in February 2011 in a massive three-team trade that also included the Minnesota Timberwolves and featured 13 players, four draft picks and cash.
He played in 412 games in parts of seven seasons with the Knicks and established a franchise and Madison Square Garden record when he scored 62 points on Jan. 23, 2014, against Charlotte.
Anthony ends his Knicks career seventh in points scored (10,186) and third in points per game (24.7). But his time with the Knicks was mostly filled with disappointment, frustration and unfulfilled expectations.
Former team president Phil Jackson made it clear that the Knicks needed to move on from Anthony. He wanted it to happen sooner rather than later and reportedly was willing to buy out Anthony, who has two years and $54 million left on his contract. That ultimately led to Jackson and the Knicks parting ways. The Knicks wanted to make sure they got something back for their best player if they moved him.
When the Knicks acquired Anthony, they broke up a good young team at the time, sending Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and Raymond Felton to Denver for him. They believed the tandem of Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire would be a formidable pairing that could be the nucleus of a championship contender. But it never materialized because of injuries and the inability of Anthony and Stoudemire to mesh.
The Knicks’ best season with Anthony was 2012-13. They won 54 games and the Atlantic Division title, and Anthony led the league in scoring with 28.7 points per game and finished third in the MVP voting. The Knicks also won a playoff series for the first time since 2000, but they lost to the Indiana Pacers in the conference semifinals.
It went downhill from there, thanks to age, injuries, front-office shakeups, coaching changes and roster overhauls.
Jackson took over as team president in 2014, and that summer, he re-signed Anthony to a five-year, $124-million deal that included a no-trade clause and a 15-percent trade kicker.
Anthony believed Jackson, with his championship pedigree as a coach, would turn the Knicks into contenders, but that didn’t come close to happening. The Knicks went 80-166 under Jackson’s watch and his relationship with Anthony soured.
After the acquisitions of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings last offseason, the Knicks believed they had assembled a team that could not only reach the playoffs but win a round or two. The Knicks started 14-10 but went 17-41 the rest of the way, and Anthony became the scapegoat for their struggles.
After the season, Jackson said of Anthony, “We have not been able to win with him . . . He is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talents somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”
Anthony ended up doing that, but Jackson wasn’t around to send him packing. Mills and Perry accomplished that.
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