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Thunder, Carmelo Anthony expected to part ways


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The Oklahoma City Thunder have apparently realized they bit off more than they can chew.

Faced with an NBA-record payroll and tax bill of $310 million, the front office has come to the conclusion that Carmelo Anthony does not fit in their future plans. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young reported earlier today that the team and Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose of CAA Sports, are working together on Anthony’s exit through a trade, the NBA’s stretch provision or a combined buyout and stretch, according to league sources.

The Ball Out reported on how the optics of Anthony’s contract could cause massive problems come this summer, and topped with the return of Paul George, this ended up being more than Oklahoma City could take on. If the Thunder were to use the stretch provision on Anthony, they could slash $107 million off their 2018-19 payroll and tax bill. But, the team’s plan A is to find a team that would be willing to acquire a massive expiring deal to free up salary-cap space for July 2019 free agency (Anthony is due $27.9 million this season, the final year of his contract).

Anthony still holds trade-veto power, so he could nix any deal that isn’t to his potential liking. However, any proposed deal with the Thunder would most likely involve a team that would waive Anthony, making him an unrestricted free agent.

With the return of Jerami Grant on a three-year deal, it became apparent that Anthony was going to be reduced to a bench role, something that he said he already would not accept.

“I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player,” Anthony said. “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.”

In his only season with Oklahoma City, Anthony saw his role change significantly, shifting from small forward to power forward. He also had a lesser role, coming more off the bench as a spot-up shooter. As a result, Anthony averaged a career-low in points (16.2/game), but made a career-high 169 three-pointers. However, come playoff time, Anthony basically disappeared. In Game 6 of the first round series against the Utah Jazz, Anthony played only 26 minutes, and only three in the fourth quarter. In the series, he averaged 11.8 points in the series, shooting just .375 from the field and .214 from 3-point range.

According to sources, the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are interested in pursuing Anthony if he is able to become a free agent. Of those teams, the best fit for him would be in Houston, where he would most likely slide into the starting small forward position. And seeing how their iso offense fits into his strengths, Anthony could thrive there. Los Angeles would be an interesting choice if Anthony were to go there, simply because he is good friends with new addition Lebron James. However, seeing that James and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson have been crafting the new roster hand-in-hand, it’s hard to see where Anthony would fit in.

Chris Bullock
Chris Bullock
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation's Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women's basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, "The Triple Double". A self-described "foodaholic", Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, "Conscious Cravings", where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.

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