Carmelo Anthony didn’t like his reduced role and the Thunder weren’t keen on paying him big money to fail at it. A parting of the ways always seemed inevitable, and now it appears close to happening.
Following one dismal season in Oklahoma City, the former Knick appears headed elsewhere shortly after opting in to the $27.9 million contract for next season. According to ESPN, an agreement has been reached between Anthony’s reps and the Thunder to split this summer.
The Thunder, weighed down by a historic $310 million payroll and luxury tax bill, can use the stretch provision, trade him or reach a buyout agreement with the 10-time All-Star and four-time Olympian. Getting rid of the $27.9 million owed Anthony would eliminate $107 million from the bill. Dealing him to a team looking to create salary cap space for next year’s blockbuster free-agency class is obviously an option, though he does have a no-trade clause. If Oklahoma City uses the stretch provision, it would slice $90 million off the tax bill, and his salary would be spread out over the next three years at $9.3 million per season.
After being traded by the Knicks prior to training camp, Anthony never quite fit alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The 34-year-old averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game and shot just 40.4 percent from the field. He moved to power forward and had the ball in his hands far less than he was accustomed to. He struggled during the Thunder’s first-round playoff exit against the Jazz and expressed displeasure in his role. He also pushed back against the idea of coming off the bench.
“As far as being effective as that type of player, I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player,” Anthony said then. “I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player.”
It will be interesting to see where Anthony lands next. Joining close friend LeBron James in Los Angeles with the Lakers is certainly going to be rumored. The two have talked about their desire to play together in the past. Then again, that was before Anthony was relegated to a role player on a team that couldn’t even get out of the first round of the playoffs.
That apparently hasn’t turned off the Rockets, who will have interest in Anthony if he becomes a free agent, the New York Times reported.
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