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Carmelo Anthony to leave the Thunder this summer

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NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young, Carmelo Anthony will depart OKC this summer:

According to ESPN’s Woj and Royce Young:

The massive financial implications of Anthony opting into his $27.9 million contract for the 2018-19 season -- coupled with a mutual understanding that his scaled back role with the Thunder isn’t what he had signed up for -- have dictated that the two sides will part ways sometime this summer, league sources told ESPN.

Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose of CAA Sports, has a strong relationship and history with Thunder general manager Sam Presti, and they’ll work together on Anthony’s exit through trade, the NBA’s stretch provision or a combined buyout and stretch, league sources said.

This is not a surprising turn of events — the Thunder can save a ton of money in luxury tax payments by doing this. The mechanism for how is interesting though; the simplest way would be the stretch provision, which would release Anthony and split his $27 Million owed this year into $9 million each of the next 3 years. That would limit OKC’s cap space in future years though. A buyout this year (or a combo stretch and buyout) would preserve future flexibility but save them less money this year.

A third option mentioned in the story is a trade- OKC trades Melo to another team who wants to gain an expiring contract to have cap space next summer. Said team would most likely release him to sign with whoever he wants after the trade, and if that’s promised then Melo would likely be willing to waive his no-trade clause.

The trick with this method is OKC would have to take salary back from the other team. There are few teams with cap space, and those teams would likely only take Melo if OKC attached a draft asset to him, which they can’t really afford to do- they have some draft picks owed already, and the draft is a way to acquire cheap talent on rookie deals- something OKC will need with a roster that will still be very expensive post-Melo.

But other over-the-cap teams will only want Melo if they can get OKC to take back guys on longer deals, which will also lock up cap space going forward. If OKC can find a slightly overpaid role player they like in such a trade it could be a good strategy (the Heat are an intriguing partner in such a deal), but that also limits future cap space and limits OKC’s tax savings this year- part of the reason for making this move.

We’ll see how Sam Presti navigates this. For now, a fond (or perhaps not so fond) farewell to the Melo era in OKC.

Poll

How do you think the Thunder will move Melo?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Buy-out
    (123 votes)
  • 30%
    Stretch provision
    (138 votes)
  • 42%
    Trade
    (189 votes)
450 votes total Vote Now