Carmelo Anthony Clears Waivers After Release from Hawks, Can Sign with Rockets

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 25: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets blocks Carmelo Anthony #7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of a NBA  game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on December 25, 2017 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Thunder defeated the Rockets 112-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony is now free to join whatever team he chooses.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that, as of 5 p.m. ET, Anthony officially became a free agent after clearing waivers following a buyout with the Atlanta Hawks. He is expected to sign a one-year, $2.4 million deal with the Houston Rockets.

In an effort to save on their luxury tax bill, the Oklahoma City Thunder unloaded Anthony to Atlanta late last month. The Hawks made that trade with the intention of a buyout and were able to save $2.4 million in the negotiations. 

Anthony is still expected to receive the full $27.9 million he was owed in 2018-19 in exchange for signing a deal for the veteran's minimum in Houston.

Since the 34-year-old picked up his hefty player option in June, the basketball world has been curious as to which uniform he will be wearing next season. The only thing that was certain was that it wouldn't be OKC.

The Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers were viewed as the front-runners from the start based on Anthony's relationships with Chris Paul and LeBron James. But it became clear in recent weeks that Houston was the likely landing spot.

Yahoo Sports' Jordan Schultz reported in early July that Paul was pushing for the move. Then, James Harden went on the record in support of the signing.

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"It would be a great acquisition for us," Harden told Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle in July. "Melo's a proven vet. He just wants to win at this point, so it would be great for him to be on our team. The current roster we have now, we've got good guys back and we keep making forward progress."

After finishing with the best record in basketball and coming within one game of the NBA Finals a season ago, Houston lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency this summer. While Anthony won't replace their defense, he should be familiar with Mike D'Antoni's system, especially since he played in it during D'Antoni's time with the New York Knicks.

D'Antoni revealed to ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown last year that he stepped down as Knicks coach because of a strained relationship with Anthony; however, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post reported in early July that the coach would be open to a reunion with the 10-time All-Star.

The Rockets finished with the second-best scoring offense in the league last season, thanks to their willingness to let it fly from beyond the arc. Anthony is coming off a career-high 169 three-pointers in 2017-18.

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