We knew it was only a matter of time, but on Thursday the Oklahoma City Thunder finally parted ways with Carmelo Anthony. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder, Hawks and 76ers sending Anthony to Atlanta, however he will not play for them next season. The Hawks will buy out and waive Anthony, allowing him to join another team, with the Rockets as the reported front-runner.
It was a relatively complicated deal with the third team coming in, but each team accomplished something through the trade. Here's a quick recap of the moves, followed by grades for each team.
- 2022 first-round NBA Draft pick (from OKC, protected 1-14)
Oklahoma City trade grade: A
OKC wasn't in an easy position here. There were only a handful of teams with the cap space to absorb Anthony's $27.9 million contract for next season in a deal, and Atlanta emerged as the prime suitor. The Thunder had to include a future first-round pick (lottery protected) in order to facilitate the trade, but they got a consolation prize in 24-year-old point guard Schroder, who Atlanta desperately wanted to unload after drafting Trae Young as the point guard of the future in June. There are questions about Schroder's work ethic, attitude, defense, and ability to run a team, so it's likely going to take some work for OKC to incorporate him into their system. But the Thunder have gotten little production out of their backup point guards in the Russell Westbrook era, and Schroder certainly has the talent to become a threat off the bench. He can also play together with Westbrook at times when OKC is looking for more backcourt offense.
The Thunder also acquire Luwawu-Cabarrot, a long, 6-foot-6 wing who saw limited playing time for the Sixers after they picked up Marco Belinelli toward the end of last season. He may not set the world on fire, but he'll give Oklahoma city a versatile body to insert against wing-heavy competition, and if he can become more consistent with his 3-point shot (32 percent for his career), he could earn a spot in the rotation.
By far the biggest win in this deal for the Thunder, however, is getting rid of Anthony. Not only will the move save the team a reported $73 million in salary and luxury tax next season, but it will also free the Thunder of an aging, ball-dominant poor defender, who clearly did not fit and appeared unwilling to adjust his game. That alone would be worth an "A," but getting a couple of potentially useful pieces back (even if they turn out to be bad) only sweetens the deal.
Atlanta trade grade: B+
The Hawks are ready to head in a new direction under general manager Travis Schlenk and new coach Lloyd Pierce, and they needed to get rid of Schroder to do that. Mission accomplished. They also got a future first-rounder out of the deal, which will convey as long as the Thunder continue to make the playoffs, which they should. As we've seen, even a post-lottery pick can be incredibly useful in the right hands.
Atlanta also picked up Justin Anderson, a tough, 6-6 wing capable of guarding multiple positions and occasionally getting hot from the 3-point line. He didn't get much playing time for the Sixers after coming over during the 2016-17 season, but he could carve out a spot in the rotation for the Hawks, who aren't exactly prioritizing winning this season.
The only disappointment from this deal is that they couldn't get more for Muscala, a prototypical stretch-four on a team-friendly, expiring deal. But it was clear that the top priorities were getting Schroder out of the mix and picking up a decent draft pick, both of which they did.
Philadelphia trade grade: B-
The Sixers' stretch-four cupboard was barren after Ersan Ilyasova took a generous offer from the Milwaukee Bucks and Nemanja Bjelica backed out of his agreed-upon deal to stay in Europe (now he might join the Kings, but that's beside the point). They saw Muscala available and pounced, but they had to get rid of two young, versatile wings to do it.
Not that Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot were expected to earn much time this season, but it never hurts to have extra multi-position wings during the slog of an 82-game season. Muscala will fill a much-needed role in Philly, but he's a consolation prize in the stretch-four sweepstakes.