Since the 2018 NBA offseason started, rumors and speculations continue to swirl that Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder will part ways this offseason. Anthony has expressed his frustration with his role in his first year in Oklahoma City. With the Thunder currently buried deep in the luxury tax hell, it will be best for them to get rid of Anthony and the $27.9 million left on his contract.
So far, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder are working together to speed up their separation process. The Thunder are actively searching for potential trade partners in the past weeks. One of the NBA teams who could help the Thunder’s current situation is the Atlanta Hawks. According to Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News, the Thunder and the Hawks are engaged in trade negotiation that would send Anthony to Atlanta and Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala to Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City and Atlanta in trade talks, with Thunder targeting Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala, per sources. Carmelo Anthony would go to Atlanta, with Hawks doing buyout. Atl looking to add asset to make Melo’s buyout a wash. Getting rid of Schroder is No. 1 priority.”
If the trade becomes successful, the Hawks will immediately negotiate a buyout with Carmelo Anthony to enable him to become an unrestricted free agent and join the team of his own choice. Recently, two NBA teams emerged as top free agency destinations for the 34-year-old superstar — the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat.
Since rumors about Anthony’s departure in Oklahoma City spread, Chris Paul has been urging the Rockets to go after the veteran small forward. Anthony and Paul are close pals and both members of the famous Banana Boat Crew. After losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the free agency market, pursuing Anthony makes more sense for the Rockets.
However, as of now, the Rockets’ main priority is re-signing restricted free agent Clint Capela. The complicated contract negotiation between the Rockets and Capela may give the Heat the opportunity to steal Anthony. In Miami, Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra could help Anthony bring back his former game by making him their main option on the offensive end of the floor. The successful acquisition of Anthony may also convince Dwyane Wade to play for another season with the Heat.
Meanwhile, as Lawrence noted, the Hawks’ No. 1 priority in making the deal is to get rid of Dennis Schroder. The Hawks recently traded for Jeremy Lin, who is expected to serve as a mentor for rookie point guard Trae Young. Schroder will be a tremendous boost on the Thunder’s second unit, but it remains questionable if they plan on keeping him for the rest of the 2018-19 NBA season knowing that they already have Raymond Felton to back up Russell Westbrook.