When a future hall of famer arrives at his last year of his contract and has an option to opt out, they usually do.
Once they opt out, they can then renegotiate a new contract that offers more money. However when it comes to Carmelo Anthony, that is not the case.On Saturday 6/23/2018, news broke that Carmelo informed the Thunder that he will not opt out of his final year of his contract. As a result, the OKC Thunder are on the hook for $27.9 million next season. Compared to other max contracts, $27 million is on the low side (Stephen Curry is owed $37 million and LeBron James is owed $37 million if he opts in) this would be a steal, however this is bad news for the Thunder. For reasons of Carmelogh coming of his worse season, the Thunder’s free agency plans for Paul George and OKC’s finances are why Anthony opting in is bad for the franchise.
Carmelo had his worse season
Carmelo Anthony had his worse season last year, averaging only 16 PPG. Before entering the season, Carmelo’s career average was 24 PPG. This coincides with his decrease in minutes, averaging 32 minutes a game, while his career average is 36 minutes. One would deduct that his points are down because he played less minutes, good point. But if you look at his FG% he also had his worse season in his career with only 40% of his shots going in the basket. His career average was 44%, that is a 9 percent decrease. He also averaged his worse season for free throw percentage, coming in at 76%. As a result of opting in, the Thunder will be paying Anthony more money for a less than stellar year.
Paul George Free Agency
Paul George has been rumored to wanting to play in Los Angeles for years. He is now a free agent and can make that dream a reality. However, news broke this week that George may be considering staying with the Thunder. If the Thunder somehow keep George in OKC, this would be a huge win for the franchise as they can build around Westbrook and Paul for the future. However, we don’t know how George will take the news that Anthony is opting in. They play the same position and George is younger than Anthony. George may want Anthony to play a lesser role on the team, but Anthony won’t take too kind to that idea. This may alienate George and give him more reason to join the Lakers.
Well, you can always ask Carmelo to come off the bench:
The Thunder finances are not great
Coming in at $134 million, the Thunder had the third largest payroll behind only the Cavaliers and Warriors. Despite having a high payroll, they made an early first round exit from the NBA playoffs. OKC’s Dollars Per Win ratio was $2.8 million, 16th best in the NBA. Which means they underachieved in relationship to the salaries they were paying. Considering that OKC is already over the salary cap, they have fewer options to improve their roster. Adding an extra $1.6 million for Carmelo’s opt in (assuming George stays and they don’t improve) to the salaries will only worsen the problem.
When life gives you lemons
As you can see, the Thunder are in a tight spot now that Anthony has opt into his contract. The only thing they can do is try and make a good thing out of a bad situation. They may be able to find a team that will be willing to absorb his salary before the trade deadline. The trade partner will be able to rent Carmelo out for a playoff push and part ways during the next off season. Another option to consider is to just have Carmelo play out his year and wait for the offseason to have his contract come off their books. That way you will gain $27 million in cap space and maybe score a free agent in the summer of 2019.