At 34 years old, Carmelo Anthony has one more big payday lined up as his Hall of Fame career enters its third act: One way or another, the 10-time All-Star will get all or most of the $27.9 million he's owed for 2018-19
Currently staring at a team salary north of $300 million once luxury taxes are accounted for, the team hopes to find some way to get Anthony's contract off the books - either through a trade, the stretch provision, or a combination of the provision and a buyout.
By simply stretching Anthony's contract (resulting in cap holds of $9.3 million over the next three seasons) the Thunder could reduce their luxury tax bill for 2018-19 from $150 million to $60 million. At this point in his career, he's probably not a $27.9-million player, let alone a $27.9-million player with an additional $90 million in tax ramifications.
And so, it's time to start considering where Anthony would be an appropriate fit at this juncture.
The Lakers now boast LeBron James, the best player from the famous "Banana Boat" photograph taken while James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul vacationed together during the 2015 offseason. James has reportedly not pressured the team to add a second marquee player, but he probably wouldn't protest against teaming up with Anthony, his fellow 2003 draftee and USA Basketball teammate, even if the fit is poor.
Anthony averaged 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 35.7 percent from 3-point territory last season. He still stops the ball too often to do his impression of his younger, more athletically gifted self, jab-stepping his mark to death before settling for a pullup, but his catch-and-shoot numbers on 3-pointers weren't actually atrocious (37.2 percent); with James drawing double teams into the paint, it's not difficult to envision Anthony being the beneficiary of more than a few drive-and-kicks from his pal.
Starting to notice a theme here? The Heat only have 11 players under contract - 12 if you pencil in Wade's likely return. Miami has both the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (up to $8.6 million) and the bi-annual exception ($3.4 million) at its disposal, and with the core of the team more or less set, it could add both Wade and Anthony without necessarily having to rely on either in the grand scheme.
But as was the case with Wade when he was traded back to Miami last season, Anthony would almost certainly be relegated to the bench. If he could get over that mental hurdle, however, he'd enjoy many of the same perks that Wade did: playing a part on a winning team, having the offense run through him for stretches, and enjoying the sun and fun (and state income-tax-free) life in South Florida.
The Rockets are Banana Boat team-up option No. 3, with Paul serving as the lifeline. Is Houston - a team with legitimate title aspirations - an ideal fit for Anthony? Perhaps not, but the Paul and James Harden-led attack would yield plenty of catch-and-shoot opportunities. Plus, there's a fairly large gap in the rotation where Trevor Ariza used to be - and Anthony is a better option as a depth forward than Ryan Anderson at this point.
Everyone has seen how Anthony performs as a third option after a season alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George, but this potential suitor might actually have some credence, as the Rockets are reportedly interested in Anthony if he hits the open market. Read More Here
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)