I'm no veteran NBA analyst. Nor am I sitting on any insider information from 'official sources' close to the team but it still needs to be said – the Thunder won't trade Steven Adams for Carmelo Anthony.
Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Steven Adams #12 talk during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics.
Bill Simmons, CEO at the Ringer and known for his inside scoop on numerous NBA rumours, tweeted earlier today that Adams' team was attempting to trade for the 10-time All Star after it was reported he said he was willing to waive his ‘no-trade’ clause with New York to join them.
But with the flair and reputation Melo has as an All Star and three time Olympic gold medallist, comes a big contract – one that OKC simply can't fit into their salary cap unless they trade away a big salary of their own.
Currently, the Thunder have four big salaries under their belt – reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, newly-acquired All Star Paul George, Kiwi Steven Adams and fellow 'Stache Brother Enes Kanter.
The Thunder can't rid themselves (and why would they) of George since he was traded to them recently in this drama-filled offseason, and it's pretty easy to state they won’t trade away the reigning MVP and franchise cornerstone in Westbrook.
Which leaves the 'Stache Brothers.
The Rotorua-born centre signed a four-year, NZ$135 million contract at the start of this season while Kanter is entering his third year of his own four-year, NZ$94 million deal.
Adams and Kanter aren’t just a dynamic duo off the court – they provide a complete package together near the rim for the Thunder.
Where Adams' defence shuts down other teams' big men around the rim, Kanter provides good scoring numbers from the low-post himself at the other end. They both shine in their area and are working on the other.
So, if the Thunder are hunting another scoring option in Anthony to join George and Westbrook, then a glaring question stands out – why would you trade away your defensive anchor in Adams when you can trade an expendable scoring option in Kanter?
Numbers don't lie
Though trading away Kanter will be a little more work and probably require another small-contract player like Alex Abrines to free up the required salary space, the defensive benefits of keeping Adams outweigh the limited scoring options Kanter would present in the newly-formed offence featuring the three All Stars.
Last season, Kanter (14.3ppg) averaged three more points than Adams (11.3ppg) – just three points.
Contrast that with Adams securing an extra rebound (7.7), twice as many steals (1.1) and double the blocks (1.0) than Kanter per game last season and suddenly you can appreciate how much more the ‘Big Kiwi’ can offer in the new Thunder line up than what Kanter would.
And despite critics arguing Adams didn't produce the numbers of a max-contract player this season, what he did show is exactly what the Thunder hoped for – development.
Adams improved in four of the five major areas (points, assists, rebounds and steals) recorded in basketball with blocks taking a 0.2 per game average dip from his career best of 1.2 bpg in 2015.
To trade away a developing Adams at this point for a 33-year-old All Star hunting one last shot at a title makes no sense. Trading away a consistent-scoring centre like Kanter does.
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