Hot Hoops: Carmelo Anthony, Michael Porter Jr., and Marcus Smart

By Michael Vesci
Jul. 20, 2018

Similar to Quick Pitch on MTV's Hot Takes, Hot Hoops will take fans of the basketball world into the top stories in the NBA world in the past 24 hours. We start off this inaugural edition with a trio of interesting stories from an already interesting offseason in the league. From the Carmelo Anthony trade, Michael Porter Jr. injury update, and Marcus Smart signing a new contract we have fans covered in Hot Hoops.

Carmelo Anthony Traded to Atlanta Hawks, Buyout Expected

After one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Carmelo Anthony has been traded to the Atlanta Hawks after opting into the second year of his two-year deal following his trade from the New York Knicks. His contract worth $27.9 million is expected to be bought out by the Hawks which will make him a free agent, giving him free rein on where to continue his career. At the moment, the Houston Rockets are perceived as the front-runners in the Anthony sweepstakes with the Miami Heat also lurking in the mix. Along with Anthony, the Thunder shipped a first-round pick in 2022 that is protected for picks 1-14 which would make it two second-round picks the following year. Meanwhile, the Thunder will get guard Dennis Schroder, forward Mike Muscala.

However, the trade does not end there as Mike Muscala will then head to the Philadelphia 76ers for forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and the 76ers will send guard Justin Anderson to the Hawks. The entire deal was done for the Thunder to be freed of their luxury tax issue in which having Anthony's contract on the books would have forced Oklahoma City to pay a bill of $150 million. Instead, this move brings them down to a luxury tax bill of $88.8 million, saving the team $61.2 million. Oklahoma City's payroll will now rest at $148.7 million with the movement of Anthony and Muscala. Where Carmelo Anthony goes next remains to be seen, but his skill set can be both a blessing and a curse for the team he chooses to play for next season.

Second Back Surgery for Michael Porter Jr., Timetable for Return Unknown

On Thursday, the Denver Nuggets announced that their 14th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Michael Porter Jr., underwent surgery of the lumbar spine and there is no timetable for a return to participate in basketball. Porter Jr. played just two minutes in his freshman year at Missouri before injuring his back this past season, forcing him to undergo a microdiscectomy of his L3-L4 spinal disks in November which was expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season according to ESPN. However, Porter Jr. returned to action for one SEC tournament game as well as one NCAA tournament game bringing his total time of game action at the college level to just 53 minutes. Due to his injury concerns, he went from being a potential number one overall pick to slipping into the hands of the Nuggets at 14.

Yahoo Sports reported, “NBA.com, citing Porter's camp, reported that the latest procedure has “led to a greater understanding of Porter's herniated-disks condition“ and raised confidence he will move on from the injury.“ Additionally, they also report that “According to the website, the Nuggets don't currently plan to have him sit out the entire 2018-19 season.“ While this is positive news for Nuggets fan, the question remains if Porter Jr. can stay healthy and prove he belongs in the NBA, especially considering how little experience he got in his one season at the collegiate level. Time will tell if teams not taking the risk of drafting Porter Jr. was smart or a mistake.

Marcus Smart Signs Four-Year Extension with Celtics

After nearly three weeks since free agency opened up, the Boston Celtics finally signed Marcus Smart to an extension on Thursday. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, it is a four-year, $52 million contract extension with the team. Following the extension, Smart made a statement saying, “This is where I want to be, and I'm ready to put a green jersey back on and get to work. I'm determined to help my teammates bring another championship to the best fans in the world.“ Things had been quiet for the restricted free agent this summer with teams seemingly not taking interest in him and his availability on the market, but with the point guard signing an extension the Celtics have more help at the guard position. Following the 2018-2019 season, point guard Kyrie Irving will become an unrestricted free agent and barring an extension guard Terry Rozier will be a restricted free agent as well.

Smart's long-term commitment to Boston helps keep a young core featuring Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier intact for the upcoming season. With the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the horizon, it just further adds to the depth that Boston will have this season as they look to become the top team in the Eastern Conference following a Game 7 elimination at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. But with the departure of LeBron James to the Lakers in the Western Conference and the lineup, the Celtics will boast, the Celtics look like the early favorites to emerge from the Eastern Conference next season.

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