We’ve all been waiting for several weeks now for the other shoe to drop and Carmelo Anthony’s situation with the Oklahoma City Thunder to resolve itself so that he could become a free agent and be available to play for the Houston Rockets.
Well, we’re one step close to that reality as Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Thunder are trading Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks for Dennis Schroder and Mike Muscala. The Thunder will also include a 2022 protected first-round pick.
The Thunder will then flip Muscala over to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, the 76ers will send Justin Anderson to the Hawks, and the final piece of the puzzle is that Carmelo Anthony will have his $27.9 million contract bought out by Atlanta.
That buy-out will free Anthony to sign with the team of his choosing, and while the Miami Heat are thought to be a contender, all signs are pointing to Anthony joining the Rockets as soon as possible.
In fact, David Aldridge is reporting that Melo to the Rockets has been a foregone conclusion for weeks.
It should surprise no one that @carmeloanthony has been telling people for more than a week that he’ll ultimately wind up with the Rockets, per league source.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 19, 2018
Should Anthony make the move to Houston, it would be a huge boost to the Rockets’ offense. Rumors are that the team would prefer to have Melo come off the bench (newly acquired James Ennis would start at small forward) to spearhead the scoring punch of the second unit from either one of the forward slots.
Despite struggling with the Thunder last season, Anthony still averaged 16.2 points per game and shot 35.7 percent from deep, a percentage you would have to think increases while on the business end of pinpoint passes from James Harden and Chris Paul.
Houston will take a hit defensively, but keeping Melo with the second unit and the more defensive-minded Ennis in with the starters and serving in the old Trevor Ariza role should mitigate the negative effect somewhat. There are other options out there too, such as the newly traded Jared Dudley, who is expected to be bought out by the Nets and could go ring-chasing at a discount to also help Houston’s defense.
Despite these options to help ease Melo’s defensive burden, there are still questions about Anthony’s mentality, ability to fit in, and if he’s finally over the hill physically. This isn’t a clear-cut piece of the puzzle.
But it’s the best chance Daryl Morey has left as an impact move in this free agency season, and I believe it’s a gamble worth taking to see if Melo’s got any juice left in the tank. If the Rockets get the ball-sharing, Olympic version of Anthony, this team could be pretty close to unstoppable.
Of course, if the OKC version shows up again, the Rockets might be in trouble, but with no other real options left for improvement until in-season trading begins, I’m in Daryl Morey’s corner on this one.