The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to make a huge impact in the 2017-18 NBA season despite having the “Big Three” of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. They managed to finish fourth in the Western Conference, but suffered a first-round playoff exit in the hands of the Donovan Mitchell-led Utah Jazz.
One of the Thunder players who has noticeably struggled this season is Carmelo Anthony. As the Thunder’s third scoring option, the 10-time NBA All-Star posted a career-low 16.2 points and expressed some dissatisfaction with his new role. Still, Anthony decided to stay in Oklahoma City for another season.
Most Thunder fans must be hating the idea that they are using a huge chunk of their salary cap space for an aging superstar like Carmelo Anthony. The 2017-18 NBA season proved that Anthony cannot coexist with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and his presence on the court deeply hurts the Thunder on the defensive end of the floor. According to New York Post, a “chance exists” that the Thunder may still consider parting ways with Anthony this summer.
“A chance exists that Oklahoma City will pursue a trade or attempt to work out a buyout with Anthony, who griped openly about his role last season.”
As of now, it remains questionable if there are NBA teams who are interested in adding Carmelo Anthony to their team. For the Thunder to find a trade partner, they must be willing to attach at least one first-round pick in any deal involving the 34-year-old forward. The Thunder won’t also gain anything from buying out Anthony’s contract since it won’t help them free salary cap space to chase superstar free agents this offseason.
Opting into the final year of his contract worth $27.9 million is a no-brainer for Carmelo Anthony. As of now, he must be aware that he could not earn that money if he decides to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, his decision undeniably has a huge effect on the Thunder, especially with their plan to give Paul George a maximum contract in the upcoming free agency period.
Bobby Marks of ESPN projects the Thunder to have approximately $150 million, with a luxury tax hit of more than $120 million if they succeed to re-sign Paul George. However, the Thunder don’t seem to have any problem absorbing the penalty. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti has strong belief that their team, as currently constructed, still has a chance of winning an NBA championship next season.