Scratch the idea of Carmelo Anthony accepting a reserve role if he decides to return to the Thunder next season. The veteran forward emphatically rejected the idea during today’s exit interviews, tweets ESPN’s Royce Young.
“I’m not sacrificing no bench role,” Anthony responded when asked about the possibility. “So that’s out of the question.”
Anthony has a player option for next season worth nearly $28MM that he is considered likely to exercise because he’ll have difficulty getting that amount in free agency. After averaging a career-low 32.1 minutes in his first season in Oklahoma City and sitting for extended stretches in the playoffs, there was speculation that he might be might be transitioned into a bench role for 2018/19, but today’s comments make it clear he wouldn’t be a willing participant.
There’s more from the Thunder’s exit interviews:
- Paul George addressed his impending free agency again today, saying that playing at home in Los Angeles won’t be the “only option” when he hits the open market (Twitter link). George is considered a lock to opt out of his $20.7MM salary for next season and has long been rumored to have a desire to join the Lakers. George had an All-Star season during his first year in OKC, but his scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage from the floor all declined from last season with the Pacers.
- Veteran big man Nick Collison, who has been with the franchise for his entire 14-year career, said, “I think I’ve decided,” when asked about his NBA future, relays Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). However, the 37-year-old added, “Today’s not the time to make any of those decisions final.”
- Head coach Billy Donovan provided a brief answer when asked if he expects to be back with the team next season (Twitter link). “Let me say I’m excited about the organization,” he replied. “I love working with [GM] Sam [Presti], the people that are here. I haven’t given any thought to that. My total focus is how do we get better and improve.” Donovan still has two seasons remaining on the five-year contract he signed when he was hired in 2015, but the Thunder have suffered first-round playoff eliminations in the past two seasons.
- Free agent guard Raymond Felton, who played for the veteran’s minimum this season, said he wants to return to the Thunder (Twitter link). “I don’t know what my future may hold,” the 33-year-old told reporters. “I would love to be back.”