Thunder Basketball

Reading Between the Melo Opting In Lines

Reading Between the Melo Opting In Lines

Carmelo Anthony has decided to opt into his $27.9 million salary and remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Yahoo! Sports. Anthony essentially decides this by not exercising his early termination option.

General manager Sam Presti spoke of the conversations he and Anthony’s representation have had since the season ended eight weeks ago.

“We have been in touch with him,” Presti said in the Thunder’s draft press conference. “And tried to, you know, provide him with as much information as we can so he can make the most informed decision possible.”

Presti also added a little nugget worth looking into considering the situation surrounding Anthony and the Thunder. The always calculating Presti mentioned the Thunder having “a lot of balls in the air,” and that “it’s still June, it’s not even July.”

It is obvious that Anthony is and was much lower on the totem pole of Oklahoma City offseason desires. Whether or not this offseason is a success hinges solely on Paul George’s decision. Once that fate is ultimately decided in the next few weeks, we will get a clearer picture of how the organization views Anthony.

But the attention grabber was this little gem:

“We have to see what it is he (Anthony) chooses to do and we’ll continue to have conversations from there.”

‘Continue to have conversations from there?’ What conversations could be had?

Please come off the bench, Melo?”

“Let’s talk buyout, Melo”

“Less minutes, Melo”

Or…

“Keep doing you, my good fellow”

Regardless of what George decides to do after July 1st, how does Oklahoma City view the 10-time All-Star? If George stays do they desire another run with a (hopefully) healthy Andre Roberson and the current core intact? If George leaves does Presti decide to rebuild/re-tool or think a Russell Westbrook/Anthony duo could do a different type of damage?

While many fans were left with a bad taste in their mouth in regards to Anthony, it is important to remember that the hooded one (I’ll let myself out, thanks) was far away from the main flaw of the Thunder.

Sure, he averaged a career low 16.2 points per game (as the third option), a measly 5.8 rebounds (on a team with a point guard who rebounds like Phoenix Charles Barkley) and shot a career low 40 percent from the floor (in a new role…as the third option).

Anthony did in fact sacrifice a lot by coming to Oklahoma City. People will focus solely on his distaste for a 6th man position, but in the role he was asked to play, he was just fine. Westbrook and George took the brunt of offensive responsibility, Anthony was just supposed to be a luxury–something he was at times, and others not so much.

In the aftermath of Anthony’s exit interview, reports floated around of the Thunder’s desire to part ways with their power forward. While that may still be on the table, it would be wise to remember a time when Oklahoma City couldn’t even get mid-level guys like Mike Miller or Shane Battier to call them back during free agency. Yes, Anthony is a mid-level talent at this stage in his career, but there is no doubt he raises the ceiling of the team–as well as decrease the floor. And he chose the Thunder.

That’s the gamble you have to make in today’s star-driven NBA.

Perhaps a Carmelo with something to prove could be a better asset if he is on the team once the 2018-19 season tips off. He has already been blessing the social media-sphere with great pictures like this and even the dreaded hoodie-workout-hits-every-shot-against-air offseason videos.

Remember Presti went to bat in defense of Anthony during his own exit interview.

“I think it’s important to note that before he chose to come here,” Presti said on May 2nd. “Because he had the no trade clause, he had to make a conscious decision about coming here. I think he knew it was going to be a big transition.”

Are we so sure the Thunder want to rid themselves of the 10-time All Star? Are we sure that even though Anthony has opted in, he will start game number one?

Find out in two weeks on another episode TheFranchiseOK.com!

 

Thunder Basketball

Brady has covered the OKC Thunder since 2016. Formerly of ThunderDigest.com, he is a credentialed NBA writer and reporter.

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