This season for the Oklahoma City Thunder was an obvious letdown. They added two pieces in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in hopes of a championship run but they fell short. They only saw a one win improvement from the previous season and they also suffered a first-round loss to the Utah Jazz. However, the big point of focus is where is George going to end up and what’s going to happen with Anthony.
The situation between Anthony and the Thunder is very intriguing. I don’t think there’s any question that he accepts his player option, however, how will the Thunder feel about that? There’s no question that Anthony is coming off of the worst year of his career. It was his lowest scoring and shooting percentage of his career. A lot of that has to do with adjusting to his new role and playing alongside two other stars which in return resulted in fewer touches.
But I’d be remissed if I left out the fact that Anthony aging is a reason as well. This year wasn’t the prettiest for the 15-year veteran. Defensively there were moments where he just looked as if he was stuck in the mud. On the other side, his drives to the basket ended up in a ton of pump fakes and some occasional bricks on lay-up attempts. Additionally, he just missed a lot of makeable shots. Especially in the playoffs where his team needed him most, Anthony struggled shooting the ball.
With that being said, I believe Anthony needs to humble himself just a bit. Coming out and saying that he’s not coming off the bench is a bit arrogant and not a smart move in my opinion. I get it, he’s been a star his entire career and one of the best scorers the game has seen but he’s just not that guy at this stage in his career. The NBA is a what have you done for me lately type of league and Anthony has to understand that.
Coming off the season he just had, he’s not in the best position to dictate whether he’ll be starting or coming off the bench. The market for Anthony is diminishing swiftly and with him strongly stating that he’s not coming off the bench, just diminishes that market even more. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News stated how the Thunder would like to “rid” themselves of Anthony:
While the Thunder want to keep George long-term, they’d very much like to find a way to rid themselves of Anthony, who could not find a role with the team and did not inspire confidence with his unwillingness to sacrifice, highlighted by his insistence that he would not come off the bench.
This could mean a trade or a buyout and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t see many general managers and organizations scratching at the door yearning to add Anthony to their team. However, if the ten-time all-star was open to coming off the bench and playing a 6-man type role then that’s an entirely new story.
As the main guy with the second unit, Anthony would get more touches and more scoring opportunities. The chances for him to play his style of ball including isolations and being the focal point of the offense would be there. Teams are always looking for scorers to add to their second unit and if Anthony was willing to come off the bench, the Thunder might consider keeping him as well.
The situation could be a good negotiation that gives all parties a little more of what they’re asking for. Also, in the event that the OKC does decide to buy him out, Anthony could find himself on a more championship-ready team.
Players have their own views of how they want their careers to go and end as they should. Guys of Anthony’s stature are rarely in the position of playing the bench role and it must be stated that he sacrificed a lot in this year alone. While it may not be the most appealing to him, he should strongly give it some more thought.