The Oklahoma City Thunder recently made history, but it is not something they should be proud of. After signing Raymond Felton in free agency, the Thunder become the first NBA franchise to surpass the $300 million in payroll. If they won’t make a significant roster shakeup, the Thunder are projected to pay $150 million in luxury tax bill, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.
In order to prevent themselves from being buried deep in the luxury tax hell, one of the major moves the Thunder could do is to get rid of Carmelo Anthony and his $27.9 million contract. Cody Taylor of USA Today Sports suggested three ways on how the Thunder could move Anthony this offseason. These include a contract buyout, waiving his contract using the stretch provision, and finding a team who is interested in trading for the aging superstar.
Of all the three options, Taylor believes the “most likely” is waiving Carmelo Anthony using the stretch provision.
“For the Thunder, they could opt to stretch Anthony’s $27.9 million salary for up to three seasons. In this scenario, the team would incur a $9.3 million cap hit in each of the next three seasons. They would receive a huge relief in taxes this season, but would still have his cap hit on the books for an additional three years. They have to decide if they just want to bite the bullet and have his $27.9 million salary on the books this year or take a $9.3 million cap hit for three years.”
Bobby Marks of ESPN echoed the same sentiment in his recent piece and added that the waiving Carmelo Anthony using the stretch provision could help the Thunder reduce their luxury tax bill to $49 million and save more than $100 million. Based on the outcome of the 2017-18 NBA season, it will be best for Anthony and the Thunder to part ways this summer.
Anthony admitted that he made a huge sacrifice in his game when he teamed up with Russell Westbrook and Paul George in Oklahoma City. As the Thunder’s third scoring option, Anthony’s numbers have tremendously gone down. In 78 games he played last season, he averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds on 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Once he becomes a free agent, Anthony is expected to join another team who has the capability to contend for the title next season. Anthony may consider signing a veteran minimum deal to team up with Chris Paul in the Houston Rockets or LeBron James in the Los Angeles Lakers. As of now, the Thunder have not released any official information on what they plan to do with Anthony. Expect more rumors to circulate as the offseason goes deeper.