The 2017-2018 Oklahoma City Thunder were a great team on paper, but the OK3 weren’t able to get it done on the court, losing to the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. With a Paul George departure eminent, Carmelo Anthony’s player option sprouts a lot of questions for the Thunder.
Assuming Anthony accepts the 28 million dollar player option, what options do the Thunder have? Well, they could let Melo play out the remaining year on his contract and cross their fingers he has a resurgence. They could buy him out for likely close to 25 million, only saving them around 3 million in cap space, and finally, they could attempt to find a trade for a team desperate for talent.
Let Him Play
Of the three options, this is by far my least favorite. Watching Melo continuously put up bricks and be singled out on defense by the Jazz, I can’t imagine an improvement for next season. I don’t know Westbrook personally, but I wouldn’t want to waste another year of my career alongside Melo.
Giving Melo a second chance is pointless. The Thunder would be better off surrounding Russ with below average role players like they did last season.
This is probably the most likely candidate for Melo’s future. He understands that his market value has plummeted and that he is nowhere near worth ten million. That being said, Melo is known to love his money. He would most likely request at least 20 million in a buyout, so ask yourself: Would you rather have Melo? Or not have Melo?
That’s an answer for the Thunder and more importantly Russell Westbrook to answer, and we won’t know what they’re thinking until they make a decision.
Who would consider trading for the guy that just shot 21% from three and just destroyed the chance of the Thunder entering round two? What team would be desperate enough to trade for someone making 28 million dollars, when they could sign someone of similar value for a minimum contract in free agency?
There is an answer to both of those questions, and it makes a lot more sense than you’d think. I even wrote an article about how they don’t have the ability to improve – (https://916kingscourt.com/2018/04/24/trail-blazers-season-over-dame-time-running-out/).
That’s right; the Portland Trail Blazers are desperate for talent, a change of culture, and cap space, all things Melo could provide them with. Imagine the following trade offer:
Trail Blazers Receive: Carmelo Anthony
Thunder Receive: Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, 2018 First Round Pick
The Blazers made a pretty big push for Melo prior to the trade that sent him to Oklahoma City. While they were unsuccessful, this is their perfect opportunity if they’re still interested.
While Melo may not be the answer in Portland, the move also gives the Blazers a lot more wiggle room in future offseasons. With Turner and Leonard gone, Portland would be back in the free agency conversations, and potentially even have enough to offer a max contract.
For the Thunder, the move also helps their present and future. With Evan Turner significantly better than Melo at the moment, he and Westbrook could will Oklahoma City into the playoffs once again. The Thunder also receive a pick in order to keep the roster youthful and moving in the right direction.