Thunder, Carmelo Anthony To Part Ways

While the specifics haven’t yet been finalized, the Thunder and Carmelo Anthony will part ways at some point this summer, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young. Per ESPN’s report, the Thunder and Anthony’s camp are expected to work together to figure out whether Anthony will be traded, waived and stretched, or bought out and stretched.

According to Wojnarowski and Young, both sides are on board with ending the relationship. Anthony recognizes that he’d be in line for a scaled-back role if he remains in Oklahoma City, and the Thunder want to cut costs by trying to get out from under Carmelo’s contract.

Anthony, who opted into the final year of his current contract, is in line for a salary of $27,928,140 as a result of waiving his early termination option. With the Thunder’s team salary projected to significantly exceed the luxury tax line, clearing a good chunk of Carmelo’s exorbitant salary would be the quickest way to creating substantial savings for 2018/19.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets, simply waiving and stretching Anthony could reduce Oklahoma City’s projected luxury tax bill by about $91-95MM, and the team would only have to pay a third of his salary this season. Of course, stretching Anthony would create $9.3MM+ cap hits in 2019/20 and 2020/21, when the Thunder also figure to have repeater tax concerns, which is why OKC will explore trade and buyout options too.

The Bulls are the only team that currently has the cap flexibility to absorb Anthony’s contract outright, though a couple other clubs could take on Carmelo if they sent out a little salary in the deal. However, a trade is probably unlikely, given the lack of teams with cap room and the fact that the Thunder would have to attach multiple assets to him in order to incentivize such a swap. Anthony also has a no-trade clause and could veto any deal he didn’t like.

A buyout is perhaps the most viable path for the Thunder. While Anthony is unlikely to give up major money, every dollar he’s willing to surrender would be worth exponentially more to Oklahoma City, given the team’s tax outlook. If he were to agree to reduce his Thunder salary by even $4MM or so, OKC could stretch his salary at about $8MM per year rather than $9.3MM+ annually.

If and when Anthony and the Thunder figure out his exit route, it will be interesting to see which clubs step up as suitors for the veteran forward. While he isn’t the player he once was, Carmelo still averaged 16.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG with a .357 3PT% last season for OKC, and could make sense in certain roles for a number of contenders.

The Lakers and Rockets seem likely to emerge as possible options for Anthony. Both teams have $5MM+ available in cap room or a mid-level exception and are expected to contend in the West. And each club has one of Carmelo’s good friends – LeBron James and Chris Paul – on its roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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70 thoughts on “Thunder, Carmelo Anthony To Part Ways

  1. twinnb15

    That’s gonna be a tough pill to swallow financially for the thunder. However, it’s the right move for their team because he doesn’t really fit in with what they’re trying to do.

      • justinept

        OKC would save $91-95 million this year by stretching Melo and lowering his cap hit to $9.3 million.

        But given their repeater label, and the fact that they’ll be right back in this position for he duration of stretching Melo, what would the savings be if thy dealt him to the Bulls and received no salary back?

        And how many first round picks would OKC be willing to give up to save that money?

        Really don’t think Melo’s NTC is a factor since any deal to the Bulls would come with the promise that he’d be waived.

    • Senioreditor

      Not the worst suggestion. Saves them much less but provides an asset or two.

    • GuruGray

      Salaries dont match and Lakers dont have the cap space to absorb Melo’s contract

      • Michaelchavez22

        I thought trades don’t go against the cap?? What’s Melo’s option at $24M? If that’s the case, about $5M separates the money.

      • imindless

        If deng is traded lakers up to 22.1 million add in zubac that another 1.8/2 million. Makes complete sense.

    • todd-3

      I was just thinking this too.. though lakers dumping deng will cost them a 1st which isn’t the end of the world with the amount of cap space they free up next summer with melo gone

      • imindless

        I doubt we include anything more if we are helping okc get under cap. Deng will be less yearly than carmelo would be stretched. Hope this happens so deng can finally be gone.

        • justinept

          Melo stretched is $9.3 mil per year. Deng yearly is $18 mil. I have no idea where you’re getting your numbers.

  2. all in ad

    I hope the fakers take the bait. Grossly overpaid, over weight, and no defense. He thinks he is a starter…who will take that????

  3. Fbravo63

    Easily the Rockets who just lost Ariza. Carmelo aint what he used to be but can be a reliable option at the 3 behind Green or Gordon wherever they put him after losing Ariza to the suns. Im just sayin if he really wants to go to the Rockets then they can send something small. But they wont probably do so until after Capelas offer sheet is signed or matched or made a deal

    • thegutsscrambler

      He doesn’t think he should play behind anyone. He’s made it clear he thinks he’s a starter.

  4. knickscavsfan

    Despite the obvious benefits he’s enjoyed in life (fortune, fame and Lala) I sort of feel bad for Melo. All he wants to do is ball and collect his money. No one told the Knicks to offer him that contract. He isn’t the first NBA player to be fabulous offensively and completely lacking in D. Knicks and OKC knew that when they signed/traded for him. And at some point he was called a locker room cancer which is a complete falicy according to most former teammates when asked. I still think he can be a valuable starter (18-20 points, 5-6 rebounds) but needs to be on a perfect environments.

    The only think that bothers me about Melo is that he’s said how he wants to win a chip yet when given a chance to accept less mine but have a chance to go to a better team he’s passed in favor of that big contract.

  5. padam

    Rockets. Starting spot is open and he gets to play with his buddy, CP3. LeBron plays his position, but even if LeBron or he played the 4, the Lakers still have Ingram who will eat into his minutes, as they look to trade for another player that would be in his way – Leonard.

    • Realtalk

      I TOTALLY AGREE!!!!! The Rockets would be a great fit for Melo right now and don’t be surprised if he re-emerges back to the spotlight playing with CP3 and Harden.

  6. I think it’s going to be the Rockets – Carmelo has always played D’Antoni-style ball anyway…

    • padam

      Actually, it’s the exact opposite. Melo is a half-court offensive player, whereas D’Antoni plays the 7 second offense. Remember, they didn’t get along in NY – D’Antoni was fired because Melo didn’t fit the offense, so hopefully they’ll find a common ground as they both pursue the same goal.

      • Sorry, was being sardonic:

        No D, jacks a shot up early in the clock.

        Melo at the Olympics before last was awesome – his 3 was on and he was a bull down on the post and glass…

        OKC tried to turn him into catch and shoot, he’s at his best posting – maybe as a focal point of a second unit…

        These huge deals which then get stretched leaving a player to collect another salary are crazy. D-Wade and George Hill are recent examples that come to mind. I get the idea that no one forces a team to offer a player like Melo that kind of money, but at what point does your character kick in and you just ‘do your job’ – “I’ll whatever you think helps the team most coach” instead of this thing of signing a huge deal with a bad team, saying publicly “I didn’t think it’d be like this, I’d like to play for a contender” and then being free to sign a small deal with a team of your choice whilst collecting the previous deal’s money…

    • Ty Taylor

      No the hell he hasn’t. He holds the ball n driibles way too much wtf u talking about

    • thegutsscrambler

      Why the hell would the Knicks take him back? They’ve gotten younger and aren’t in position to compete, nor would he be an asset if they were.

        • knickscavsfan

          I never heard KP say anything bad about playing with Melo. Is this something you read?

    • thegutsscrambler

      He would never, he thinks he’s a star still and will want to play in a larger market.

      • Dionis

        How do you know he’s not looking to go somewhere he can have a defined role? On the Pacers he could be 2nd option behind Oladipo and play the power forward or small forward position. On the Raptors he could play the 3 or 4 and be a 2nd or 3rd option behind Kyle or Demar.

        • thegutsscrambler

          Who in there right mind thinks he’s a second option, he’s the only person that may believe that.

          • knickscavsfan

            You do understand that 1st, 2nd or 3rd option is all a matter of who else is available on the team right? On some teams he WOULD be a 2nd option. I mean, he played behind two ball-dominant guys in Russ and PG. You really think he couldn’t improve upon his 16 pts pg last year?

            • x%sure

              Olidipo is a 2. Melo is a 3 or 4.
              Elsewhere you say it will be Indiana and Portland. But Indiana is the about the LAST place to expect him!

      • knickscavsfan

        He just got thru playing in OKC. I think a vet player is less concerned with market size and now that he’s going to get the money he’ll look for the best place to compete with a wild card shot of making it deep into the playoffs. I don’t think he’ll go to the GSW’s although that would be a fit coming off the bench.

        Portland, Houston, Philly, Bucks, Wizards and Heat would all make sense. Clippers would be great too if he wasn’t concerned with competing but wanted to start and maybe rebuild his image/value.

  7. I’d like to think this could actually make sense for Detroit. A deal of Jon Leuer ($10.5m) Langston Galloway ($7m) and Detroit using its $7m trade exemption would get them to $24.5m of Melo’s salary. If they could reach a buyout to make up the difference there is a spot at the 3 with no one seemingly wanting to step up to take it.

    From the Thunders position they’re saving a fortune. Not sure Detroit would be willing to increase its tax situation though.

    • justinept

      OKC would actually be spending a fortune in that scenario. They get Melo down to about $9.3 million by stretching him. In that scenario, they save $95 million in luxury tax this year.

      If they trade him and take back $24.5 million, they’re actually spending about $75 million more than they would have by stretching him. Why would they do that?

      • They’re not taking back 24.5m. They’re taking back 17.5m. 7m is just a trade exemption that Detroit has available to use in order to take on additional salary. That saves them just over 10.4m which is a better savings than 9.5m using the stretch.

        • x%sure

          Trade exceptions can’t be thrown into trades. They’re actually pretty hard to use. Have to find a $7mil player you want probably.

    • You can’t add a trade exception to salaries for a match. Plus, buyouts are only permitted after the contract is waived (it can’t be marked down, and then traded as a smaller contract). Also, I’m not sure all the Det contracts are expiring deals (which would likely make the entire thing a non-starter for OKC).

      A team would have to send 23 mm in salary to OKC to take Melo’s 28 mm. If the 23 mm were all expiring, then there’d be a decent benefit to OKC, as they could stretch a smaller amount (but the difference is not something that’s likely worth a 1st round pick).

  8. glk5150

    I would like to see him go to the Rockets. I think he fits in better there and we need another “super” team to hate.

  9. thegutsscrambler

    Some of you guys play too much 2K and have the worst ideas of how this ends. Aside from a team being super desperate, he’s not getting traded. He’ll probably get bought out and sign with a big market team for a discount. Melo still hasn’t come to terms that he isn’t a star anymore and will want to be a starter for a big market team. He’s as delusional as some of these offers.

    • justinept

      This is all about luxury tax savings. I’m not sure how you go about running your 2K team, but if you’re concerned about luxury tax savings then you’re playing it all wrong…

      That said, there is a trade that makes sense. And it’s the Bulls. OKC maximizes its savings with the deal because the Bulls don’t need to send any money back. And the Bulls maximize their cap space by leveraging it to add future first round draft picks while not hurting their future financial flexibility.

      You’re right on one front, though. Some of these trade ideas are absurd. Only the Bulls, Kings, and Hawks are below the cap – with only the Bulls being able to absorb the entire deal in 2018. Every other team would need to match the money by sending contracts back to OKC. And OKC is NOT taking back $25 million in 2018 when they can stretch Melo and save $95 million. So any deal that involves players being sent to OKC are dumb.

      • It is about tax savings. You’re right about that. I don’t see Houston making a move because how do Melo and Harden co exist together. The bulls want to tank another year and late 1st round picks don’t offer much incentive plus that is one huge contract that can be traded at the deadline.

        Lakers have enough clowns working at the circus already.

        Without taking lesser bad contracts back OKC will be very limited in their options

        • justinept

          I disagree that multiple picks between 20-25 wouldn’t be incentive enough for the Bulls. And that’s what it’d be since the Thunder’s best case scenario is the 4th seed out west behind GS, Houston, and NO. That’s the 23-24 pick…

          Cap space isn’t an asset to a team that isn’t in the Fa market. Draft picks are an asset. How many it would take for the Bulls to write a $28 million check is up for debate, but to make the general statement that multiple picks wouldn’t be worth it is wrong.

  10. imindless

    Loul deng for carmelo anthony straight up. Saves both teams dollar and gives lakers maximum flexibilty next year.

      • imindless

        Just saw on espn if deng is traded it elevates there cap number to 22.1 with the 5 million we still have add in zubac which is around 2 million and he gone. Makes sense for both teams to get it done!!!

        • justinept

          Why would OKC trade for Deng and stretch his $36 million over 3 years when they can just stretch Melo’s $28 million over 3 years? You do realize that OKC is doing this to SAVE money, right?

          • imindless

            Deng has 2 years not 3. Melo has one bloated cap hit. 36 stretched out is less aav than 3 years at 8/9 mill per year. Make sense?

  11. formerlyz

    So they save money, but then they get a lot worse…makes no sense. They only needed a shooter

  12. OKC’s best scenario with Melo is to W&S, and seek to do it in conjunction with a buyout reduction. Doing the smart thing by coordinating with Melo’s agents. If some team (Houston) he’s likes is willing to throw their mid-level (5.4 mm) at him, then there’s no reason he shouldn’t agree to take that amount off his salary before he’s W&S by OKC.

    Even if they find a team with “cap space” that might be willing to absorb Melo’s entire salary, because they can’t trade their 1st until 2022, I’m not sure they’d give up much more than that one pick, likely with significant protection. There are other things they can do this year (even if Melo’s current year number of 9.3 mm is not reduced) to get the 60 mm down even further. Of course, burdening future cap space by 9.3 mm for two more years is still bad. But burdening future drafts by trading even one lightly protected a 1st as far out as 2022 would be worse.

  13. Don’t see him fitting in Houston, with CP3 & Harden already been ball dominant, the Rockets will need 3 balls every match to play… SMH

  14. CubsRebsSaints

    Carmelo doesn’t play D. He is not an elite NBA player. But he would be a shooter for LeBron. That’s where he fits. He may actually hold a little more value than the mid level exception. Say 7/8m for this season. And maybe sign a veteran that wants to play with them for a good value at the mid level

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