On Sunday, Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti once again went under the radar and pulled in another superstar in Carmelo Anthony. The difference between the Melo deal and the Paul George deal is that the Melo deal really hurts the Rockets. After going all Summer claiming that he only wanted to go to the Rockets, Melo threw OKC in the mix and a few hours later, boom, a deal got done. Presti basically lurked in the shadows like a ninja thief and stole the diamond ring. Meanwhile, the Rockets were staring at it through a window outside and watched it get taken.
After acquiring Chris Paul, the Rockets were billed as the team to give the Golden State Warriors their toughest challenge out West. Even if the Warriors beat them, the Rockets were at least expected to be the number two seed and go to the Western Conference Finals. Getting Melo would have easily solidified that even further. Putting the smartest and best passer of this generation with two scoring machines would have wreaked havoc for any opposing defenders.
However, now the Rockets went from the easily favored number two seed, to possibly dropping to as low as the fifth seed. Some people might call me crazy, but I have my reasons. The number one seed will indubitably be the Warriors. Then, the number two seed will be the San Antonio Spurs. Again you might think I'm crazy, but here's why.
First and foremost Greg Popovich should never ever be doubted, especially not after Kawhi Leonard nearly took game 1 of the WCF against the Warriors by himself. Secondly, Tony Parker is two months ahead of schedule from his injury. Thirdly the Spurs' bench has consistently been a top unit in the league. Finally, OKC has a completely revamped unit with too many stars to get acclimated. If history serves me right, a certain Miami Heat team got off to a bad start in 2010 after getting two of the top ten players in the league, so people shouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens with OKC. T
The West is also a ruthless conference with little room for error. However, OKC won't fall too far behind and they'll finish as the third seed. Much like the Heat did in 2010, OKC might get off to a slow start but they will finish the season as a deformed beast with three heads. Unless they really let their egos clash, they simply have too much talent to not get the job done.
That leaves the Rockets at number four. Having Melo would have helped them tremendously because CP is a more than willing passer and he would not have needed to be that second option. As for James Harden, he would have had a player to take over in any situation in the event he wasn't feeling himself. It's not like CP is an incapable second option, but as he has shown time and time again, he would rather distribute the ball. However, Houston has one thing OKC doesn't. Their bench is still solid with Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Luke Mbah Moute and Nene holding it down. They also kept the rest of their starters from last season, so they should be just fine.
On this off chance, let's say the Minnesota Timberwolves also leapfrog the Rockets. That means the Rockets could slide as far down as number five. This idea isn't so far-fetched either. The Timberwolves have one of the best two-way players in Jimmy Butler and arguably the best center in Karl Anthony-Towns. They too have a very good supporting cast and a solid bench. Let's not forget that Andrew Wiggins has the potential to drop forty on any night. However, their lack of three-point shooting will be their death. Again that's why I said on the off-chance.
Aside from the standings, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith made some good points about how this deal hurts CP the most. You can view the video below.
Forgoing all that money and then losing out on playing with one of your best friends surely stings. That is something that might be lurking in CP's mind come next summer. Especially considering the fact that Melo basically said no team stands a chance to get him until two days ago, that might make CP think that management is a little incompetent.
The Rockets' GM Darryl Morey blew a golden opportunity. When taking into account what the Knicks received in exchange for Melo, that certainly doesn't soften the blow. The Knicks pretty much took what Morey has been offering the whole summer without the draft pick. Enes Kanter and Ryan Anderson are both offensive weapons but Anderson is probably more valuable because of his ability to stretch the floor. All Morey had to do was throw in that draft pick and they would have a done deal. Heck, it could've been from 2050 for all they cared, but Morey just couldn't get it done. The Rockets will still do fine, but flying to the moon surely won't be as easy as anticipated this season.