As soon as free agency began, it was clear NBA is going to be a different league next season. Paul George chose to stay in OKC and sign a 4 year max deal. LeBron James left Cleveland for LA. Melo, who opted into the last year of his contract pre free agency and later made it clear he’s not donning a Thunder jersey again.
Moving Melo by waiving and stretching him will save OKC a whooping $107M in salary and taxes. Moreover, last season wasn’t really what was expected of OKC and they had to make necessary changes. Houston has come forward as a front-runner for Carmelo. The Rockets have already lost defensive wings Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and talks with Free Agent Clint Capela are yet to reach a conclusion.
Going after Carmelo is the logical thing to do if you’re the Rockets. While Melo can’t give you the defense of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, he can give you shooting at a high clip playing in the Rockets system. If there’s one thing Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni loves, it is shooting.
Melo is 34 years old and in the twilight of his career. He should be in Win Now mode and Houston is the only place offering winning and a playoff berth that’s willing to sign him. Melo is also former teammates with James Harden and Chris Paul when they played for Team USA in 2012 Olympics. Chris Paul reportedly vouched for Melo in front of Rockets brass. There’s also the option of re-signing at the end of next season if he fits in and all goes well.
One hurdle that Melo would have to see through is his past with Mike D’Antoni in New York. The two had a tough time adjusting to each other when D’Antoni was coaching the Knicks. D’Antoni has said in the past that he’s willing to work through it and team up with Melo but it is something that might drive Melo away from Houston.
If Carmelo Anthony does not happen to be in Win Now mode, he might just go to a team that can pay him well. He might even still get traded to a team he likes as he still has a no trade clause in his contract. Melo can make or break a team and this is what makes the rest of free agency interesting.
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