According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Carmelo Anthony is not planning to opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. As such, Anthony will move forward and collect the near $28 million owed to him — precisely the outcome many expected all along.
“Anthony has until Saturday at midnight (Eastern) to exercise the option that would make him a free agent July 1 — provided he were willing to walk away from the $27.9 million he is owed next season. But he is planning to let the deadline pass quietly and keep his current contract in effect, according to the person, who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Letting the deadline pass will lock in Anthony’s full salary for next season but doesn’t guarantee that he will continue his career in Oklahoma City. Anthony announced after the Thunder’s first-round exit last season that he could not stomach returning in 2018-19 in the same limited role, which raises the possibility that the sides could pursue buyout negotiations this off-season.”
While the news (if it ends up being true) is likely disappointing for Thunder fans, there was hardly any doubt that Anthony would elect to take the sort of money he couldn’t dream of on the open market. Sam Presti and the front office will now need to look for alternative ways to remove Anthony from the fold should they decide it’s necessary — whether that be through buyout or finding a willing trade partner interested in Anthony and/or his massive expiring contract.
Anthony’s first season in Oklahoma City was a disappointment, with the 10-time All-Star averaging a career-low 16.2 PPG on 40 percent shooting from the floor and 35 percent from downtown. In his exit interview, he expressed great displeasure with his role on the Thunder, saying, “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.”
This will be interesting to monitor as we move past Saturday’s early termination deadline. Plenty more to come.