As expected, Carmelo Anthony opts-in to the final year of his contract. With the deadline passing Saturday, Carmelo Anthony did not exercise the early termination option on the final year of his contract to join the 2018 free-agent class. Anthony, officially a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder again next season, will earn $27.9 million in 2018-19 to complete the five-year, $120 million contract he signed with the New York Knicks in 2014. With Anthony back, and the desire to re-sign Paul George to a max-level contract once free agency opens, the Thunder would have one of the largest payrolls in NBA history. ESPN’s Bobby Marks projects the Thunder’s salary to be close to $150 million, with a luxury tax hit of more than $120 million if George re-signs. While the tax implications are jarring, the Thunder have positioned themselves financially to absorb the penalty.
Since acquiring him before last season, the Thunder anticipated Anthony would opt into the final year of his deal, always viewing the trade as a two-year deal, despite some comments after the season by the 10-time All-Star expressing some dissatisfaction with his role.
“I think for me, my focus would be on kind of figuring out what I want out of the rest of my career, what I want in my future, what am I willing to accept, if I’m willing to accept that at all,” Anthony said following the season. “I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damned near everything, family, moving here by myself, sacrificed my game for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out. So, it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball.”
Even with Anthony under contract for next season, the Thunder could negotiate a buyout, use the stretch and waive provision, or work a trade for Anthony (although he would need to waive his no-trade clause). However, the expectation for now is Anthony will be with the team in training camp. Anthony, 34, averaged career lows across the board with the Thunder last season, including 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, though he did set a career mark for 3-pointers made in a season.
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Honestly, before the season started and with the addition of Paul George I liked this squad. When everyone said “Hoodie Melo” working out all that summer, it seemed like he had something to prove. With Melo, PG-13 and Westbrook, my thinking was they were good enough to compete against the Warriors. Unfortunately, they were eliminated in the first round by the Utah Jazz. If Paul George resigns with the team and Andre Robertson coming back healthy, can the Thunder get over that hump?