Carmelo Anthony

Anthony/Schroder Trade May Not Be Completed Right Away

The three-team trade that will send Carmelo Anthony to the Hawks (briefly), Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, and Mike Muscala to the Sixers may not be officially completed for several days, according to reports from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links).

As Vivlamore notes, the Hawks will almost certainly waive Antonius Cleveland and his non-guaranteed salary in order to create the cap room necessary to make the deal work, but that shouldn’t hold things up much. Pompey hears from one source that the delay may be the result of the 76ers working on another move.

While it’s not clear what that Sixers move might be, the club does have a tiny sliver of cap room still available. It’s not enough space to be useful at this point, but perhaps Philadelphia wants to explore all its options before officially going over the cap and closing certain doors.

Whether the trade is ultimately finalized today, this weekend, or next week sometime, Anthony looks like a strong bet to eventually land in Houston once he’s acquired and then waived by Atlanta. Anthony has reportedly considered both the Rockets and Heat, but Houston has been viewed as the strong frontrunner for the last week or two.

David Aldridge of TNT provides more evidence in favor of Anthony joining up with James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston, citing a source who says that Carmelo has been telling people for over a week that he’ll wind up with the Rockets (Twitter link).

When the deal becomes official, the Hawks will use up their remaining cap room, leaving the Kings as the only NBA team with any meaningful space available. Sacramento still has more than $20MM in open cap room.

Anthony To Hawks, Schroder To Thunder In Three-Team Trade

The Thunder and Hawks have agreed to a trade that will send Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City will receive Dennis Schroder in the deal. Royce Young of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the 2022 first-rounder will have 1-14 protection, and will turn into two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in ’22.

The Sixers will also be involved in the trade, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who tweets that Philadelphia will acquire Mike Muscala from Atlanta and will send Justin Anderson to the Hawks. The 76ers will also deal Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Oklahoma City, Vivlamore adds (via Twitter).

Upon acquiring him, the Hawks will waive Anthony, Wojnarowski adds. That will free up the veteran forward to join whatever a new team when he clears waivers, and the Rockets remain the strong frontrunners to land him.

We heard rumblings earlier this week about discussions between the Hawks and Thunder involving Anthony, Schroder, and Muscala, so it seems those two teams were able to find common ground, with the Sixers entering the mix as well. Here’s how the deal looks for each of the three teams involved:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

It has been nearly two weeks since word broke that the Thunder intended to part ways with Anthony, but the team resisted waiving him outright. Doing so would have reduced his $27.93MM cap charge to just $9.31MM, significantly reducing the club’s luxury-tax bill for 2018/19, but it would have added dead-money cap hits worth $9.31MM for the next two years as well.

By trading Anthony and a future protected pick and taking back Schroder and Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Thunder will reduce their 2018/19 team salary and projected tax bill substantially while also adding a productive point guard in Schroder. The 24-year-old, who averaged 19.4 PPG and 6.2 APG last season, figures to assume a role similar to the one Reggie Jackson previously had in Oklahoma City.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Thunder GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan were granted permission to speak to Schroder before the deal was agreed upon, and both Presti and Donovan are “enthusiastic” about the fit. Oklahoma City had been seeking more speed and another ball-handler, Woj notes.

Still, there’s a reason Schroder was available. There are on-court questions about his shooting and defense, and off-court concerns about his character and his legal issues. Schroder was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last September, with Georgia officials recommending in March that he be prosecuted for felony aggravated battery. He’ll face discipline from his team and/or the league when that case is resolved, but the Thunder appear to be banking him avoiding a more serious sentence.

As for the specific tax figures, by my count, the Thunder will now have a team salary of about $148.74MM with a projected tax bill just over $88.75MM. Prior to the deal, those numbers sat at about $160.97MM and $157.75MM, respectively. While Oklahoma City’s tax outlook for 2018/19 has improved, the Thunder will have to be wary about increased penalties in future seasons after adding Schroder’s $15.5MM annual salary through 2020/21. They’ll likely deal with that when the time comes though.

It’s worth noting that a lengthy suspension without pay for Schroder could further reduce the Thunder’s team salary and tax hit in 2018/19. A suspension would also reduce the likelihood of the point guard earning the $2MM in unlikely incentives included in his contract, though not all of those bonuses are tied to individual performance, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

Finally, the Thunder will create a traded player exception worth $10,883,189 in the deal. They’ll have a year to use it.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks had been determined to move Schroder for much of the offseason, and drafting Trae Young and acquiring Jeremy Lin made Atlanta’s former starting point guard even more expendable. Despite his solid production, Schroder had a slew of on- and off-court question marks, as detailed above, and he was drafted and extended by Atlanta’s previous front office — general manager Travis Schlenk never seemed particularly attached to him.

By moving Schroder ($15.5MM) and Muscala ($5MM) for Anthony ($27.93MM) and Anderson ($2.52MM), the Hawks take advantage of their remaining cap room — they’re able to take back significantly more salary than they sent out as a result of that space.

Atlanta won’t get any real immediate help out of the deal, but the club will create future cap flexibility by clearing Schroder’s three remaining years from its books — both Anthony and Anderson are on expiring deals, and Carmelo will be waived shortly. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), he’ll get his full $27.93MM salary from the Hawks. That was certainly agreed upon prior to the completion of the deal, since Anthony had a no-trade clause and could’ve vetoed the move if he thought Atlanta would ask him to give back money in a buyout.

The Hawks will also acquire a 2022 first-round pick, which they’ll receive as long as Oklahoma City is a playoff team in ’22 — otherwise, it will become two second-rounders. The Stepien rule, which prevents teams from trading consecutive future first-rounders, meant that the Thunder would have had a hard time dealing an earlier first-round pick, since they’d already sent their top-20 protected 2020 first-rounder to Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers:

While the Sixers’ involvement in this deal may seem extraneous, it’s a nice bit of business for Philadelphia. In Muscala, the team will acquire a big man capable of knocking down outside shots — he’s a career 37.8% three-point shooter and made a career-best 1.2 threes per game in 2017/18.

The Sixers thought they’d acquired a player who fit that role earlier in the offseason when they reached an agreement to sign Nemanja Bjelica, but Bjelica backed out of his deal with the team, leaving Philadelphia seeking a replacement. Muscala is a solid fallback plan, and is on an expiring contract, meaning he won’t compromise the team’s future cap flexibility.

In order to acquire Muscala, the Sixers only had to surrender Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot, a pair of players who seemed unlikely to have regular rotation roles for the team in 2018/19. The move will also help the 76ers clear out a roster logjam, as the team had 16 players under contract and was still believed to be considering bringing over draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden. Following the deal, the Sixers are back down to 15 players on NBA contracts, not including Bolden or 2018 second-rounder Shake Milton.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks, Thunder Have Discussed Carmelo Anthony

The Thunder and Hawks have engaged in discussions on a potential trade involving Carmelo Anthony, reports NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence (Twitter link). According to Lawrence, the Thunder are looking at Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala, and if the two sides can make a deal, Atlanta would buy out Anthony’s expiring contract.

Per Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Hawks and Thunder spoke in Las Vegas about a possible trade involving Anthony, but those talks didn’t get serious. Still, Vivlamore acknowledges that things could change now that Atlanta has acquired another point guard in Jeremy Lin.

The Hawks have been exploring possible trades involving Schroder for much of the offseason, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that their acquisition of Lin may expedite the process of moving Schroder. While the 24-year-old has been a productive player on the court, concerns related to his legal troubles and locker-room fit have limited his appeal to both the Hawks and to potential suitors. Lawrence indicates that trading Schroder is Atlanta’s “No. 1 priority.”

Schroder was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last September, with Georgia officials recommending in March that he be prosecuted for felony aggravated battery. He figures to face discipline from his team and/or the league when that case is resolved. Jail time also isn’t entirely out of the question, though Hawks officials are reportedly confident that will be avoided.

Meanwhile, the Thunder continue to explore ways to part ways with Anthony without simply having to waive him. Cutting Anthony outright and stretching his salary over the next three years would result in cap hits of $9.3MM+ annually through 2020/21. Oklahoma City would like to find a way to reduce its projected tax bill by cutting costs in an Anthony trade, though it’s unclear if the team is willing to add an asset – such as a future first-round pick – to make that happen. That may be a sticking point for the Hawks, per Lawrence and Vivlamore.

We outlined in detail last week how an Anthony trade could work for a team that has available cap room, but not necessarily enough to accommodate his full $27.93MM salary. The Hawks meet that criteria. They can create about $10MM in cap space, so they wouldn’t have to match salaries if they were to trade for Anthony — Schroder ($15.5MM) and Muscala ($5MM) would be enough.

Rockets Remain Frontrunners For Carmelo Anthony

A report last weekend indicated that executives around the NBA viewed the Rockets as favorites to land Carmelo Anthony if and when he reaches free agency. Multiple reports this week have corroborated that story, with Marc Stein of The New York Times and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) both suggesting that Houston is the frontrunner for Anthony.

According to Stein, it would be a “full-fledged surprise” if Anthony doesn’t end up playing for the Rockets. Charania conveys a similar sentiment, writing that Houston is the “strong” favorite to land the veteran forward, having pulled away from the Heat in the Carmelo sweepstakes.

Anthony is still technically a member of the Thunder, but Oklahoma City is on track to part ways with the 10-time All-Star, either by buying him out, waiving and stretching him, or trading him to a team that will waive him.

[RELATED: Examining how a Carmelo Anthony trade could work]

As we learned earlier this week, the Thunder granted Anthony and his representatives permission to speak to potential suitors. Carmelo and his reps reportedly met with the Rockets and Heat, who were both said to have legitimate interest. The Lakers were mentioned as a possible landing spot for Anthony earlier in free agency, but Stein suggests L.A.’s interest was overstated.

The Rockets have lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute so far this offseason, but reached a deal to sign three-and-D wing James Ennis. Anthony would help fortify the team’s frontcourt depth. The club would be able to sign him using either the minimum salary exception or some or all of the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.337MM).

Examining How A Carmelo Anthony Trade Could Work

The Thunder have talked to the Nets about a possible trade involving Carmelo Anthony, according to Mitch Lawrence of Forbes and The Sporting News, who reports (via Twitter) that Brooklyn would be looking to move Jeremy Lin in such a deal. The Nets, who would want draft picks, would buy out or waive Anthony if they acquired him, Lawrence adds.

While it may be true that the Thunder and Nets have explored a potential trade, it’s hard to see how it would work with Lin as the primary outgoing piece. After buying out Dwight Howard, the Nets reportedly have a little less than $11MM in cap room available, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to match Anthony’s $27.93MM salary, since salary-matching rules only apply to over-the-cap teams. Still, they’d have to send out more than Lin’s $12.5MM expiring contract in order to remain under the cap after completing a deal.

The Nets could create a little extra space by waiving Isaiah Whitehead, who has a non-guaranteed $1.54MM salary, but they’d still be about $4MM short of having enough outgoing salary to complete a Lin-for-Anthony swap while remaining under the cap.

The Nets players who earn less than Lin are youngsters with positive value, so the team wouldn’t simply throw them into an offer to make the money work. Adding a highly-paid vet like Allen Crabbe or DeMarre Carroll wouldn’t make much sense from the Thunder’s perspective, since their goal is to cut costs.

On top of all the cap-related roadblocks in the way of a potential swap, Brian Lewis of The New York Post notes (via Twitter) that Lin has been told the Nets will tell him if they plan to trade him. As Lewis relays, Lin hasn’t gotten a call at this point, so if there have been trade discussions, they likely haven’t gotten serious.

“My agent called me just to clarify,” Lin told Lewis. “But no, I don’t think there’s any… I don’t think that has any truth to it.”

While a Thunder/Nets swap seems like a long shot, we know that Oklahoma City is exploring potential trade options involving Anthony before simply buying him out or waiving him. The Lin example is instructive for laying out how a potential deal could work.

Although no team has the cap space necessary to absorb Anthony’s contract outright, the Nets and three other teams – the Kings, Bulls, and Hawks – have enough room to send out significantly less salary than they receive. That makes them potential trade partners for the Thunder, who are looking for ways to reduce a potential record-breaking tax bill.

For instance, the Kings are currently about $19MM below the cap. That means they could trade a player like Iman Shumpert ($11MM salary) to Oklahoma City and take back Anthony without going over the cap. That would be ideal for the Thunder, who could waive and stretch Shumpert across three seasons and create an annual cap hit of about $3.67MM instead of the $9.31MM annual cap charge that waiving Anthony would create (assuming neither player gives back money in a buyout). The tax savings for OKC in 2018/19 would be massive, and the smaller annual cap charges would help reduce the team’s tax bills in future seasons too.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Stretch Provision]

So what would be in it for the Thunder’s trade partners? They wouldn’t be hanging onto Anthony, who has a no-trade clause and almost certainly wouldn’t approve a trade to a non-contender unless he knew he’d be waived shortly thereafter. So presumably any team willing to talk trade with the Thunder would be seeking draft picks and/or young players along with Carmelo.

The problem is that Oklahoma City isn’t exactly asset-rich on either front. Terrance Ferguson is really the only intriguing young prospect on the Thunder’s roster, and the team’s 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected) is committed to Orlando.

The Stepien rule prevents teams from trading back-to-back future first-round picks, so the Thunder wouldn’t be able to trade their 2019 first-rounder outright, and would have to get creative with conditions in order to trade any other first-rounder before 2022.

It’s possible that 2022 and 2024 first-round picks would entice one of those teams with cap room to use up the rest of their space on Anthony, only to subsequently waive him. But the further in the future those picks are, the less they’ll appeal to current general managers, who have no assurances they’ll even still hold their jobs by 2022 or 2024.

One intriguing option would be for one of those teams with cap room to trade a multiyear contract to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony. That way there would be a little more incentive for OKC’s trade partner to make a deal, since that club would be clearing cap room for future free agent periods. It also wouldn’t necessarily hurt the Thunder, who could spread the player’s money across more than three seasons using the stretch provision if he’s on a multiyear deal.

Omer Asik of the Bulls would be a perfect target for the Thunder in this scenario. Asik is earning $11.29MM in 2018/19, then has a $3MM guarantee on his 2019/20 salary. If the Thunder acquire him, they could stretch his remaining guaranteed money ($14.29MM) across five seasons for an annual cap hit of just $2.86MM.

The Bulls, meanwhile, would be able to clear $3MM from their books for the summer of 2019 — that’s not a huge amount, but if the team wants to be players in free agency next year, that added flexibility could come in handy. Of course, from Chicago’s perspective, including a contract like Cristiano Felicio‘s ($24MM over three years) in such a deal would probably be preferable to moving Asik’s.

Another way for the Thunder to increase trade interest in Anthony would be to attach its 2020 first-round pick with reverse protection. The 2020 selection traded to the Magic will only change hands if it falls between 21 and 30, so OKC could theoretically send that pick to another team if it lands in the top 20.

Given the lack of teams with cap room around the NBA and the dearth of appealing assets the Thunder could attach to Anthony, a trade ultimately seems unlikely. Simply waiving and stretching Carmelo would create upwards of $90-100MM in tax savings for Oklahoma City, and that number could increase if the veteran forward accepts a buyout. That’s probably where we’re headed, as interesting as the trade scenarios are to consider.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thunder Allow Carmelo Anthony To Meet With Prospective Suitors

With the Thunder and Carmelo Anthony expected to part ways, the team granted the veteran forward permission to meet with prospective suitors, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, Anthony and his representatives – including agent Leon Rose – met with the Rockets and Heat in Las Vegas at the NBA Summer League in recent days. The Lakers are also among the teams said to have interest in Anthony, though there’s no indication in Wojnarowski’s report that they’ve met with Carmelo or his reps. Marc Stein of The New York Times suggests L.A.’s interest in Anthony may be overstated.

As Woj details, Anthony’s meeting with the Rockets included head coach Mike D’Antoni, who spent time in New York with the 34-year-old. While the two men had a rocky relationship as members of the Knicks, D’Antoni made it clear during their latest meeting that the circumstances would be much different this time around. The Houston coach welcomed the idea of reuniting with Anthony, league sources tell Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Rockets considered favorites to land Carmelo Anthony?]

Wojnarowski didn’t provide any specifics on Anthony’s meeting with the Heat, but says that coach Erik Spoelstra has been a “strong advocate” of adding the 10-time All-Star.

Before Anthony can sign with the Rockets, the Heat, or any other club, he’d need to become a free agent. According to Wojnarowski, the Thunder are still exploring possible trade scenarios that would send Carmelo to a new team, which would subsequently waive him. However, such an outcome seems unlikely — no team has the cap room to absorb his $28MM salary outright, and any over-the-cap clubs would have to send out more than $22MM to meet salary-matching rules.

Teams with cap room available are more viable trade partners for Oklahoma CIty, but would still have to send out some salary in any deal, and would likely expect significant assets from the Thunder, whose 2020 first-rounder is tied up as a result of another trade.

Anthony also has a no-trade clause, but he has agreed to waive it if he gets sent to a team that doesn’t intend to keep him, Wojnarowski notes.

Rockets Rumors: Capela, Luxury Tax, Anthony

In the wake of multiple reports suggesting that the Rockets and Clint Capela aren’t close to reaching a new deal, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com provides some specific details on the negotiations between the two sides.

Sources tell MacMahon that Houston’s initial offer to Capela was in the neighborhood of $60MM for four years. However, the young center is believed to be seeking a deal similar to the one Steven Adams signed with the Thunder — $100MM over four years.

Accepting an offer in the $60-70MM range would mean earning a lower annual salary than several lesser centers around the NBA, so it makes sense that Capela would be seeking a larger deal. Still, he’ll have to be careful about overplaying his hand. Only the Hawks and Kings still have the cap room necessary to top a $15MM-per-year offer, and neither club seems eager to use its remaining space on a center.

Capela could accept his qualifying offer and hope for stronger outside offers as an unrestricted free agent next summer, but that’s a risky move. That qualifying offer is worth less than $5MM, so if Capela suffers a major injury during the 2018/19 season – like DeMarcus Cousins did in a contract year – he’d regret not having accepted Houston’s best long-term proposal.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Although the Rockets have already lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, new team owner Tilman Fertitta is adamant that the luxury tax isn’t influencing Houston’s roster decisions, as MacMahon details. “We know we’re going to be in the luxury tax, and if you want to compete for a championship, I feel like unless you get real lucky, you’re going to be in the luxury tax,” Fertitta said on Monday. “So it is what it is. … It never even came up in any discussion.”
  • General manager Daryl Morey acknowledged that the Ariza and Mbah a Moute departures will hurt, but sounds optimistic that the team will find a way to fill those newly-created roster holes. “Both Trevor and Mbah a Moute were a big part of our team,” Morey said, per MacMahon. “That’s part of my job and our staff’s job is to put together a new group for this year. We feel confident. We need our best team on April 15. We’re going to either sign or trade or something to get us back to where we need to be, and we also really like our group.”
  • Fertitta also expressed confidence about the Rockets’ roster: “We feel like we were a Chris Paul injury away from being in the Finals, and we feel really good about this year. I think come opening night, I think everybody’s going to be really impressed with the team that we have on the floor.”
  • Within MacMahon’s piece, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms that the Rockets plan to pursue Carmelo Anthony once he’s waived or bought out by Oklahoma City. Many executives around the NBA reportedly view Houston as the frontrunner to land Anthony, and Wojnarowski noted in a tweet that the Rockets are “determined” to sign him.

Rockets Considered Favorites To Land Carmelo Anthony?

Many NBA executives consider the Rockets the favorite to land Carmelo Anthony, according to Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (Twitter link).

O’Connor also predicts that Melo will sign with Houston but names the Lakers, Heat, and Sixers as other possibilities. It was previously reported that Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami were expected to have interest in the future Hall-of-Famer.

Anthony’s business manager, Bay Frazier, spent a good portion of the Warriors-Rockets summer league game alongside the Rockets’ brass. Frazier was seen with Chris Paul, owner Tilman Fertitta, player development coach John Lucas II, and head coach Mike D’Antoni, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link).

The Rockets were linked to Anthony last summer, having pursued him when the Knicks were looking to make a move. New York wasn’t interested in taking back Ryan Anderson as part of the deal and talks stalled, leading the organization to send Anthony to the Thunder. While Anthony’s latest breakup isn’t yet finalized, a buyout arrangement appears forthcoming, as OKC is unlikely to find a taker on the trade market for his nearly $28MM salary.

The Thunder are facing luxury tax concerns and will be looking to trim as much salary as possible off their books in negotiations. The Rockets have the $5,337MM taxpayer mid-level exception at their disposal and if Anthony can line up an offer with Houston or another club, it may expedite the process of him leaving the Thunder.

Rockets, Heat, Lakers Expected To Have Interest In Carmelo Anthony

The Thunder intend to part ways with Carmelo Anthony this summer, whether that means trading him, waiving and stretching him, or buying him out and stretching him. With a trade considered a long shot, potential suitors for Anthony expect him to reach the open market, at which point he’ll likely be “pursued vigorously” by contending teams, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski and Royce Young.

According to Wojnarowski and Young, the Rockets, Heat, and Lakers are among the teams expected to express interest in Anthony. Word of Houston’s interest was first tweeted by Marc Stein of The New York Times.

The Rockets have their $5.337MM taxpayer mid-level exception available and pursued Anthony last summer. Heading to Houston would allow Anthony to compete for a title and join old friend Chris Paul.

Anthony could also team up with a close friend in Los Angeles, with LeBron James poised to sign with the Lakers. L.A. still has about $5.6MM in cap room available, so the club would be able to offer Carmelo more than the minimum.

As for the Heat, they haven’t used any of their mid-level exception, so they’d be able to go up to $5.337MM, or perhaps even higher if they’re willing to hard-cap themselves. They might not be as close to title contention as the Rockets or Lakers, but the Heat could have a clearer path to a deep playoff run than L.A. at least, given how much more competitive the West will be. They’d also have a Banana-Boater on their roster if Dwyane Wade opts to return.

Recognizing that the Thunder will have to let him go at some point, Anthony may not be incentivized to surrender much money in a buyout agreement with Oklahoma City. However, if he knows he has a $5MM+ offer lined up with another team, it could push him to give up a little of his Thunder salary to accelerate the process.

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.