Report: Carmelo, Thunder parting ways; Lakers, Rockets, Heat in pursuit

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony (7) gestures after hitting a three-point basket. (Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Carmelo Anthony’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder appears to be coming to an end.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young report that because of the dire financial implications of Anthony opting into the final year of his contract, the two sides are working on a means to part ways either via trade, the NBA’s stretch provision or a combination of a buyout and stretch provision.

Should Anthony hit the open market, the two reporters say the most interested parties would be the Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Before the start of free agency, Anthony opted into the final year of his contract and the $27.9 million that comes with it. As a result of this, coupled with the stunning re-signing of Paul George and then Jerami Grant, the Thunder are looking at a team salary and luxury-tax bill of approximately $310 million, a historic figure.

However, would the Thunder be able to use the stretch provision on Anthony’s contract the club would shave off $107 million off this coming season’s team payroll and tax bill.

For those unaware, the stretch provision basically allows teams to waive a player and stretch out the remaining guaranteed money left on that player’s contract over twice the remaining length of the contract plus one additional year.

This is particularly useful for teams who want to try getting out of a bad contract or, like the Thunder, are looking for salary cap relief because that stretched out money will count against the cap for every season that it’s still on the books.

So, in Anthony’s case, should the Thunder decide to stretch his $27.9-million contract out, instead of getting hit with that huge lump sum next season, the team would have $9.3 million going against their cap for the 2018-19 season and the next two subsequent ones.

For now, according to ESPN reporters, the Thunder will first begin looking into trade possibilities with teams that will be looking to clear a ton of cap space for the summer of 2019 when players like Kyrie Irving or Klay Thompson may be available.

Either way, it looks like the 10-time all-star will be available on the open market at some point this summer.

Last season, Anthony averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 per cent shooting in 78 games with the Thunder, his first season with them.

The 34-year-old was traded to Oklahoma City in September last year after six and a half seasons with the New York Knicks.

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