Russ Isabella-USAT

Well, what we knew would happened, finally happened. Carmelo Anthony opted in on his $27.9 million contract. While many understood this was going to happen.

You don’t walk away from $28 million, it’s still also understandable for people’s frustrations. Anthony wants a ring and maybe thinks he can do it here but we’ve seen in reality that’s probably not happening. However, we cannot hate or even really be mad at someone for not passing up that type of money.

All of a sudden, Anthony is the 10th highest player in the NBA. TENTH. ONE-ZERO.

Anthony, 34, had come to Oklahoma City in hopes of becoming a trio that helped dethrone the Warriors and added that elusive championship to his already hall of fame resume. However, injuries happened and it exposed Anthony defensively and his role as the power forward position, playing a very stretched version of it, had worn thin with him and in all honesty hadn’t really worked too well.

It was apparent from the first time he interviewed with the media he wouldn’t be accepting anything less than a starting position. You also don’t trade for a player like Anthony, with his accolades and financial burden, to bring him off the bench. There were issues in which we saw other players stepping up when Anthony couldn’t. In Game 5 as Oklahoma City made their historic comeback, it was Jerami Grant who made the push, not Anthony.

Then, the open criticism of the experiment at the exit interviews. Anthony detested playing the four and once again reiterated he would not be coming off the bench.

Anthony spoke the right things throughout the season. However, it’s understood the experiment didn’t work. We can say Anthony tried. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti saw that, too.

“I give him an enormous amount of credit for the fact that he put both feet in,” Presti said. “I personally think he did an excellent job in his first year transitioning his game, working to becoming more of an off-the-ballplayer, being more reliant on other people to generate his offense, and sacrificing a lot.”

Anthony averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season, both some of his career worsts. Scoring was the lowest of his illustrious career. His shooting numbers weren’t any better. His 40.4 percent field goal percentage was the worst of his career.

There are options for Oklahoma City. They could trade the 10-time all-star or they could buy him out. They could just make him come off the bench, too. However, it’s more likely Anthony will not be a member of the Thunder next season. Anthony does retain his no-trade clause in his contract.

If Oklahoma City buys out Anthony, the money they negotiate, whether it’s smaller or the whole $27.9 million, will still count agains the Thunder’s salary cap. However, if Anthony signs with another team within 48 hours, it’s completely free of the any responsibility. It’s more likely Anthony isn’t signed within 48 hours and a portion of the money would still count against the Thunder’s cap.

There’s also the wild factor of LeBron James’ decision. Cleveland could try to make a move for Anthony. It would give James another proven scorer around him, it would also provide some depth for Oklahoma City as they would probably get one or two players back in the trade.

For now, Anthony remains a member of the Thunder. Who knows if the Andre Roberson injury changed the entire course of the franchise, exposing Anthony’s liabilities to this point. We’ll never know.

What we do know is Anthony is making a lot of money now.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.