Carmelo Anthony Reportedly Opts into Contract with Thunder

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2018

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, April 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Carmelo Anthony's first season with the Oklahoma City Thunder was rocky to say the least, but he is reportedly staying put for the 2018-19 NBA campaign.

While the forward's contract featured an early-termination option, per Spotrac, the chance to make just shy of $28 million was clearly too much to pass up. Anthony told the Thunder on Saturday that he will be opting into his deal for the upcoming season, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. 

There was plenty of drama surrounding Anthony and his contract decision, especially in the aftermath of Oklahoma City's postseason loss to the Utah Jazz.     

"It wasn't no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player and things like that...I don't think I can be effective as that type of player," Anthony said, per MassLive.com beat writer Fred Katz.

Anthony was also asked if he would come off the bench in 2018-19 and said, per Royce Young of ESPN.com: "I'm not sacrificing no bench role. So that's out of the question."

The disgruntlement didn't just come from Anthony's perspective, as Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported the Thunder would "very much like to find a way to rid themselves of Anthony."

However, Anthony's contract and his lackluster showing on the court were detrimental to a potential trade. He likely wasn't going to get $27.9 million for a season elsewhere.

This comes after disappointment for a team that was supposed to challenge the likes of the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference when Anthony and Paul George joined Russell Westbrook. While Westbrook and George thrived at different times, Anthony struggled.

He finished with career lows of 16.2 points, 1.3 assists and 32.1 minutes per game while shooting just 40.4 percent from the field. Things got even worse in the playoffs, when the Thunder bowed out in the first round in six games despite having home-court advantage and Anthony averaged 11.8 points behind 37.5 percent shooting from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point range.

It was a far cry from the earlier portion of his career, when the Syracuse product was a 10-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection who led the league in scoring in 2012-13 at 28.7 points per night as a member of the New York Knicks.

Even though he will be 34 years old next campaign, he has averaged better than 20 points per game every season of his career except the last one.

In a perfect world for the Thunder, Anthony will rediscover some of his scoring touch while taking advantage of the openings created when opposing defenses collapse on Westbrook's penetration and consistent attacks in the lane.

If nothing else, he can serve as an expensive three-point shooter after he connected on a solid 35.7 percent from deep this past season.     

Ultimately, Anthony will likely need to improve and shoulder more of the offensive load alongside Westbrook if the Thunder are going to take the next step as a serious Western Conference contender.

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