Carmelo Anthony recently exercised his $27.9 million option for the 2018-19 season, but he likely won’t suit up for the Oklahoma City Thunder again.
The reason is simple: Money.
Following OKC’s signing of Raymond Felton, the franchise has a combined payroll and tax commitment north of $300 million. ESPN’s Bobby Marks, a former general manager, called it “an historic threshold” to cross.
Oklahoma City crosses an historic threshold as the first $300M team in salary and projected luxury tax with the Raymond Felton signing. The Thunder now have a tax bill of $150M.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 4, 2018
That sure is a lot of coin for a slightly above-average roster. But the Thunder can dramatically reduce their payments if they negotiate a buyout for Carmelo.
According to NBA writer Jeff Siegel, a buyout of $25.5 million — Anthony’s contract minus the veteran minimum for which he could sign after being released — with the remaining money stretched would save OKC $116 million in luxury tax payments.
You read that correctly: $116 million.
Anthony isn’t an essential piece for a championship run in the NBA. That player for the Thunder, without question, is Russell Westbrook, and his most important sidekick is Paul George — who re-signed this summer.
The Thunder may miss his scoring occasionally, but Carmelo’s departure wouldn’t stop OKC from being a playoff team.
And a much, much cheaper one at that.