Dean's Take: Wise & Inevitable Move To Punt 'Melo

Friday, July 6th 2018, 2:37 pm
By: Dean Blevins

The news that the Thunder will part ways with Carmelo Anthony is not surprising. We've been saying that a long time, but especially after OKC and Paul George extended their relationship.

Several thoughts:

  • It was nonsensical to move forward with the positive energy resulting from the PG and Jerami Grant extensions only to be burdened with a somewhat semi-malcontent -- at least in Thunder terms -- who clearly were not supported significantly by the stars -- Russ Westbrook and PG. Friendships are fine. But winning supersedes sharing post-game beverages.
  • If you are going to complain and proclaim you will not move to a sixth-man role moving forward, you must be a lot better than 'Melo has become.
  • Several critical career lows statistically doesn't put one in a strong negotiating position, especially when your role has changed and you aren't able to play at the pace needed.
  • It makes financial sense. Diminish the over-priced $28 million salary by likely opting to stretch the deal for three seasons and ultimately saving a tidy little $107 million. When you have a record $300-million payroll, saving large chips makes the decision a no-brainer.
  • And by the way, the bad rap that critics exaggerate, intended to make the OKC ownership look cheap - the Harden deal, Serge Ibaka, etc. - has gotten old and is simply dead wrong. Not just Clay Bennett, but the rest of the committed ownership group, are used to winning and have repeatedly shown their dedication to doing whatever is necessary to keep OKC a big-league contender. These men are principled, sound, and don't represent small-market thing. Just the opposite.
  • Nothing is completed right now except an agreement between parties to divorce and settle amicably. The guess here is Sam Presti will help execute an exit strategy that gives 'Melo and his agent a feeling of goodwill.
  • It will surprise local fans who've watched 'Melo essentially struggle throughout a complete season, compared to expectations of a perennial all-star who deposits over $2M of cheese monthly, that several contenders are expected to take a hard look at adding the likable chap from Syracuse. But for much less than In OKC, likely a vet-minimum type deal.
  • So Presti goes 1-for-2 in his gamble to bring in PG and 'Melo. Beats a poke in the eye. In fact, Thunder fans are relieved upon the news 'Melo won't return and see it better than a .500 batting average for 'Sudden Sam.'
  • Playing the optimist on this (Very) Good Friday, I expect OKC to improve quite a bit this season. The second year and known future should see improvement from PG. Russ won't force things to keep a star pal happy who didn't fit the system. Remember his odd uncertainty early last season in trying to find his role and those of others? Unnecessary losses resulted. A healthy Andre Roberson will cement a potent defense & raise the quality of play. A healthy preseason for Alex Abrines and Patterson should result in better starts and momentum for the long haul of the season. Big Kiwi is moving upward in his prime. Terrance Ferguson's offseason work and a year under his belt could deliver a big jump. Sans 'Melo will be a bonus both on the court and in inevitable uneasy times that would have developed if he slipped into the Big Blue hoodie & unit again this season. And underrated coach Billy Donovan will not have to tippy-toe around in-game decisions; couch true thoughts in every media setting; won't be handicapped by forcing minutes to a 'Melo whose presence on the court restricted the free-flowing up-tempo game he prefers, and should be freer to be more demanding of his expectations.