Report: Carmelo Anthony will opt into final year of contract with Thunder

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Carmelo Anthony is coming off of the worst statistical season of his 15-year NBA career.

Averaging 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, both of which were career-lows, Melo didn’t exactly gel alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George during his first year in Oklahoma City.

In typical fashion, he wasn’t shy about voicing his complaints after the season concluded.

“It’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball,” Anthony said at the time, reflecting on his diminished role in OKC and pondering his future with the club.

Now heading into his 16th season and still without an NBA title, Melo has an important decision to make before July 1.

Since he holds a player option of $27.9 million for next season, he could opt in and collect every cent but have to return to his complementary role alongside Westbrook (and maybe George if he re-signs). Or, he could opt out and become an unrestricted free agent.

The latter would come with a great deal of financial risk. Since he’s on the back-end of his career, he might have a hard time attracting a salary that comes close to $27.9 million.

“Carmelo Anthony does not intend to opt out of his current contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to a person familiar with Anthony’s decision,” Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Friday.

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Stein added that “he is planning to let the deadline pass quietly and keep his current contract in effect". 

A few possible outcomes

Although Anthony opting in is a formality, it is far from a guarantee that he will actually take the court for the Thunder next season. There are a few options that could take place.

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The team and Anthony can explore buyout options. Since he has just one year remaining on his deal, he’d be a perfect candidate to come to some kind of agreement if he thinks there’s a better opportunity elsewhere.

He could also get traded. As seen recently with the Timofey Mozgov trade for Dwight Howard, pretty much any deal is a realistic possibility in today’s salary cap-driven league. It’s clear that he still holds value as a dynamic scorer.

Finally, he could remain with the team and play out the last year of his contract. Especially if George signs elsewhere, he could even take on a more prominent role, which is something he might feel more comfortable with.

Ultimately, Melo’s role will most likely be determined when George makes up his mind.

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