NBA: OKC, Melo parting before start of regular season

Carmelo Anthony (photo from Sportingnews.com)

Carmelo Anthony (photo from Sportingnews.com)

Carmelo Anthony and the Oklahoma City Thunder will part ways before next NBA season begins, ESPN reported Friday, saying the move could save the Thunder more than $100 million.

The 34-year-old forward from Brooklyn opted into his $27.9 million deal for next season knowing that plans to scale back his role to a reserve doesn’t fit with his desires.

Anthony, a four-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, is the all-time US scoring and rebounds leader but the 10-time All-Star has struggled in 15 NBA seasons, never playing in the NBA Finals.

Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists last season for Oklahoma City, which went 48-34 but lost to Utah in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

When Thunder stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George were on the court last season without Anthony, their efficiency rating was nearly 10 points higher than when ‘Melo was alongside them.

With George opting to stay as well, the Thunder face an epic $310 million payroll, which league sources told ESPN in the report would dictate the Thunder trade, buy out or stretch Anthony’s contract impact under NBA salary cap rules — the latter move trimming $107 million off next season’s salary and luxury tax total.

Anthony’s situation allows for talks to teams who might release Anthony into free agency or would be looking for a massive contract that expires next year, providing a huge pool of money for next year’s free agents.

The Thunder also could then trim their luxury tax expenses by $90 million. (AFP)

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