Oklahoma City’s $28 Million Dollar Carmelo Anthony Problem

During the 2004-05 season Carmelo Anthony hit a career low in player efficiency rating at just 16.7. Last season, with the Thunder, he dipped to a new low at 12.7 in a season that saw him average 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 40.4 percent from the floor across 78 appearances.

Now, should he choose to opt-in, Oklahoma City would owe him $27.9 million for the 2018-19 season and it’s becoming clear the Thunder don’t want to do that. However, they may not have a choice because Anthony holds all the cards.

When discussing his process of approaching free agency in last Saturday’s exit interviews, Paul George left Melo out of the group of people he needed to consult with.
“I think the biggest thing is just trying to keep a relationship with Sam, continue to talk with Sam,” George said. “Continue to talk with Billy, with Russ, and figure out the direction we want to go as a group.”

George isn’t the only person leaving Melo out of discussions on the future though. General Manager Sam Presti repeatedly did the same thing when he had his exit interview with the media on Wednesday.

“We had the capacity to be still be playing, but we’re not,” Presti said. “We have to understand we are in a very good position if P.G. does return to build on that foundation of Paul George, Steven Adams, Russell Westbrook and then also the surrounding cast we like as well.”

I’m thinking that it’s more than just an errant omission on Presti’s part. Clearly he doesn’t see Carmelo Anthony as a part of Oklahoma City’s future. The problem is that Anthony controls the situation. He has a no-trade clause and he gets to choose to either opt-in or out. Melo also doubled down on playing time by stating that coming off the bench next season is not an option.

“I’m not sacrificing no bench role,” Anthony told reporters Saturday. “As far as being effective as that type of player” he stated, “I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player. I think I was willing to accept that challenge in that role, but I think I bring a little bit more to the game as far as being more knowledgeable and what I still can do as a basketball player.”

The ball is clearly in Melo’s court here. He, along with the rest of the world, knows that he’s not going to get $28 million in the free agent market so he choice boils down to playing the type of role he believes he’s capable of somewhere else, or collecting a fat paycheck from an organization that doesn’t really want you around anymore.

The happy medium here would be if OKC could get him to agree to a trade or get him to accept a contract buyout. Still though, the Thunder have no control over either of those situations. Should they find another organization willing to accept Anthony’s contract and trade, it has to be agreed upon by Carmelo first. They buyout also has to be agreed on by Anthony as well.

Having a $28 million dollar player on the bench isn’t acceptable and neither is paying top dollar for a declining player in the twilight of his career. However, Oklahoma City may not have any other choices out there, and that’s a big problem.

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