The Thunder have a $28 million problem.
Carmelo Anthony is no longer good. And he’s unfortunately the last to know.
Barring a miracle opt-out, next year OKC will be on the hook to pay superstar money to a no-efficiency chucker who offers little else outside of interesting hat choices.
But if the Thunder are desperate enough, and if the Detroit Pistons, fresh off splitting with president and coach Stan Van Gundy, have recognized that they’re going nowhere, there’s a path to jettisoning Anthony out of Oklahoma.
Trade Carmelo Anthony for Blake Griffin
After trading for Griffin in the middle of the season, the Pistons still failed to reach the playoffs. Now they’re locked into salary cap hell with a mediocre roster.
They’re committed to over $100 million in salary in each of the next two seasons. The injury-plagued Griffin will make over $140 million across the next four.
If the goal is to rebuild, Van Gundy’s decision-making replacement could see the value in swallowing one year of Melo’s awful salary to shed Griffin’s contract, which will pay him $39 million in 2022, when he’ll turn 33.
Melo would have to waive his no-trade clause, but something tells me he’d do just that if promised he could then hoist shots to his heart’s delight — which in turn would vastly improve Detroit’s chances of landing a high lottery pick in the 2019 draft.
As for OKC, something tells me potential free agent Paul George is already out the door. It wouldn’t be the first time a star player jumped at the chance to end his playing relationship with Russell Westbrook.
Because Griffin doesn’t have a no-trade clause, a trade for the Oklahoma native could be OKC’s best chance of landing a star to pair with their prized point guard.
The hypothetically rebuilding Pistons could demand a draft asset or two, and likely wouldn’t balk at taking on an underwater contract or two, say that of Kyle Singler or Patrick Patterson, to get it done.