Carmelo Anthony
This is the look on every Thunder fans face because they knew OK3 isn’t working. Carmelo Anthony became the fall guy today. (Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports)

Carmelo Anthony has played his final game as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. After Carmelo opted into his contract worth more than $27 million for the upcoming season, OKC has been plotting ways to get rid of the player who seemed like he aged 20 years in an hour. The Thunder currently projected to have a payroll of over $300 million which would have been the largest in NBA history. Releasing Melo will save the team roughly $100 million which is a huge break for small market Oklahoma City.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was the first to report the news:

“As the Oklahoma City Thunder navigate an historic $310 million payroll and luxury tax bill, the franchise’s front office is working through scenarios that will culminate in the inevitable this summer: An ending to the brief Carmelo Anthony partnership, which could deliver the Thunder over $100 million in cost savings.

The massive financial implications of Anthony opting into his $27.9 million contract for the 2018-19 season — coupled with a mutual understanding that his scaled back role isn’t what he had signed up for to play with Oklahoma City — have dictated that the two sides will part ways sometime this summer, league sources told ESPN.”

The terms of the deal will either include the stretch provision where they can alleviate the tax bill over years to come. The other option will have Anthony take some sort of buyout to reduce the cost for this season instead of taking more dead money for years to come in the future. After re-signing Paul George and Jerami Grant to an extension, the Thunder’s hands were pretty much tied. Releasing Anthony was really the only move to save costs.

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Anthony, 34, obviously isn’t the player he once was and may have to take some sort of minimum contract with a contender to rebuild his value. Maybe that includes Houston (who tried to trade for him a year ago) or the Lakers to rejoin his bud, LeBron James. Anthony averaged 16.2 points per game in his lone season with OKC.