This won’t come as a huge surprise, but Carmelo Anthony’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder is coming to an end this summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Thunder are planning to “part ways” with the 10-time All-Star before the 2018-2019 season begins.
Anthony’s situation is a bit complicated. He opted into the final year of his contract with the Thunder a month back, costing the team $27.9 million for the upcoming season. Oklahoma City has since made a number of other moves – including re-signing both Paul George and Jerami Grant. As such, the franchise is now in a situation where, because of luxury tax rules, it is estimated to have over a $300 million payroll.
That said, if Oklahoma City can unload Anthony, it can ease its financial burden a great deal. Even by just stretching his deal over time, it can save over $100 million. In short, the franchise is exploring all options when it comes to moving Anthony:
Oklahoma City can use the stretch provision on Anthony’s $27.9 million contract to eliminate a staggering $107 million off the team’s 2018-19 payroll and tax bill, but the Thunder first plan to pursue trade possibilities with teams looking to acquire a massive expire deal to salary cap space in July 2019 free agency.
…The stretch provision would slash $90 million in tax, dropping the Thunder’s bill from $150 million to $60 million. The stretch provision spreads Anthony’s salary annually onto the Thunder’s cap for $9.3 million over three years.
As we noted earlier this week, Carmelo to the Los Angeles Lakers makes a ton of sense – either via a trade or via free agency. If the Lakers acquired him via trade, they’d have an expiring contract ahead of the 2019 summer – presumably for Kawhi Leonard. If they signed him instead, it’d likely be for the veteran minimum.
However it works out, it looks like Oklahoma City no longer wants Anthony in-house. So it seems like it’s just a matter of time before the franchise figures out the best way to move on.
Anthony has never won an NBA title, and the opportunity to play with LeBron James in Los Angeles makes a lot of sense. Would the Lakers be interested? We’ll find out.