Carmelo Anthony’s days in Oklahoma City are numbered, according to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young. The Thunder traded for Anthony prior to the 2017 season in hopes that he would be the third part of the Thunder’s “Big Three” alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
Things didn’t go as planned. Anthony had his worst statistical season in his 15 seasons in the league with a 16.2 points average — the first time in his career he dipped under a 20 point average. The chemistry between the three stars never quite came together, and the Thunder were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the upstart Jazz.
According to Woj and Young, the Thunder don’t have Anthony in their 2018 plans. Anthony opted into the final year of his contract worth roughly $27.9 million on June 23. The move made sense for Anthony, as no team would be willing to pay him that much on the open market at this stage in his career.
For the Thunder, moving on from Anthony makes even more sense. The Thunder are headed towards a $310 million payroll including their hefty luxury tax bill in 2018, the largest in NBA history. Removing Anthony’s contract could save the Thunder more than $100 million, due to the large luxury tax hit his contract puts against the team’s payroll.
The Thunder will either look for a buyout or trade partner. Even if Anthony is traded, it’s unlikely it will be to a team who wants to keep him. The ESPN report stated that teams who acquire him in a trade would probably waive him, allowing Anthony to enter free agency.
While Anthony isn’t the dominant scoring star he used to be, he could still be a valuable contributor on contending team. Here are Carmelo Anthony’s most likely landing spots. Keep in mind, Anthony will almost undoubtedly want to play with a contender in a comfortable situation. That’s why the list of teams who will seriously have a shot at his services is likely very small.
Los Angeles Lakers
Could Carmelo Anthony team up with one of his good buddies in Laker Land? Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers will probably be discussed once Anthony discusses free agency. The Lakers, despite landing LeBron James, haven’t exactly signed players with Anthony’s scoring ability. So far, Magic Johnson and the Lakers front office have surrounded LeBron with Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Sure, the Lakers also have a solid group of young players in Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball, but a veteran scoring presence could help them in the stacked Western Conference.
LeBron has always expressed a desire to play with his Banana Boat buddies — Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo. He’s already played with Wade in both Miami and Cleveland. Now’s his chance to make a run alongside Melo.
New York Times reporter Marc Stein has reported that the Houston Rockets will be interested in signing Anthony when he becomes a free agent.
Again, this makes sense for both sides. The Rockets would replace the scoring of Trevor Ariza, who left for the Phoenix Suns in free agency, and Anthony would get a chance to play with fellow Banana Boat friend Chris Paul. Anthony wanted to be traded to the Rockets prior to last season before he was traded to the Thunder.
Portland Trail Blazers
Before the Knicks dealt Anthony to OKC, multiple reports came out stating that there was a chance Anthony would agree to a Trail Blazers deal. Anthony had and still has a no-trade clause, so his potential willingness to team up with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum could bode well this time around as well.
The Trail Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs, so there’s a need for the organization to get some front court firepower to couple with the dynamic backcourt of Lillard and McCollum.
Source: Heavy Sports