Just two weeks after announcing he would opt in to the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, worth $27.9 million, 10-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony and the team are expected to part ways this summer, sources told ESPN.
The Thunder reportedly will either trade Anthony or use the NBA's stretch provision or a buyout-and-stretch combination. By using the stretch provision on Anthony’s contract, Oklahoma City could shave over $100 million off its 2018-19 payroll and tax bill, according to ESPN.
The Thunder reportedly will first look to deal Anthony, but he has the power to veto a trade proposal.
The Towson Catholic graduate’s relationship with the team has soured in the year since he was traded to Oklahoma City. He agreed before the season to transition from small forward, which he’d played while with the New York Knicks, to power forward. But Anthony produced career lows in scoring (16.2 points per game) despite making a career-high 169 3-pointers.
He did not play for much of the third quarter during the Thunder’s Game 5 comeback in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, and in Oklahoma City’s series-ending Game 6 loss, he had just seven points in 26 minutes.
It wasn’t what either side was hoping for.
“Once you accept something, regardless of what it is, I think you become comfortable with it,” he told reporters after a January game against the Los Angeles Lakers. “You start putting your all into it, you start working on that role and on that acceptance, and it becomes fun. I think right now, after accepting that role, I think early in December, the game is starting to become fun again for me, fun for us as a team.”
In April, after exit interviews with the Thunder, Anthony said he would not be willing to come off the bench for the team in 2018-19.
“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,” he said.