Carmelo Anthony, Thunder Reportedly Parting Ways This Summer Via Trade, Buyout

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 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

The Oklahoma City Thunder are reportedly planning to part ways with veteran forward Carmelo Anthony this offseason.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young, OKC is working with Melo's agent, Leon Rose, to either trade him, use the stretch provision or utilize a combination of the stretch provision and a buyout.

Anthony recently exercised his one-year contract option to return to the Thunder in 2018-19 at a value of nearly $28 million, per Spotrac.

If and when Anthony hits the open market, the Houston Rockets will be among his suitors, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Houston was rumored to be in the market for Melo last offseason before he was dealt to OKC.

Per Wojnarowski and Young, the Thunder will look to move Anthony to a team that wants to acquire an expiring contract in order to create salary-cap space for next offseason.

Failing that, using the stretch provision would allow the Thunder to save $107 million on their 2018-19 payroll and tax bill.

In that scenario, Melo would count for $9.3 million against OKC's cap over three years.

The stretch could be a desirable option for the Thunder considering they currently have an NBA-record $310 million payroll and luxury-tax bill.

Moving on from Anthony would also make sense from a basketball perspective since Melo is reportedly unhappy with his role as a stretch power forward.

He played small forward for essentially his entire career, and the switch led to a significant drop in production last season.

The 34-year-old averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He also shot just 40.4 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from long range.

Prior to last season, the 10-time All-Star had never averaged less than 20 points per game in a single campaign.

According to Wojnarowski and Young, Melo has no interest in being relegated to a bench role.

The Thunder acquired Anthony last offseason in a trade with the New York Knicks that sent Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick to the Big Apple.

Although Melo and the Thunder reached the playoffs, they were ousted by the Utah Jazz in the first round.

With guard Russell Westbrook running the show and Paul George back in the fold, there is hope for OKC to be a threat in the Western Conference once again next season.

Assuming Anthony isn't part of the equation, the Thunder may opt to go with a big lineup that features both center Steven Adams and recently signed big man Nerlens Noel on the floor at the same time.

Rounding things out is forward Jerami Grant, who will likely pick up many of the minutes vacated by Anthony.