With the Oklahoma City Thunder agreeing to terms with Paul George on a four-year, $136 million contract, it put them on track to pay a $130 million luxury tax bill for the 2018-19 season. That would mark the highest luxury tax ever paid by a team in a single season.
Aside from the Thunder coming off a disappointing first-round exit and essentially returning the same roster, that type of penalty is particularly daunting for a small-market team such as the Thunder. Naturally, speculation of parting with Carmelo Anthony became commonplace.
Oklahoma City is believed to be exploring their options with the veteran forward, which include a trade and buyout; the latter of which appearing to be the more likely scenario.
The Los Angeles Lakers were among the early teams mentioned as potentially having interest in Anthony if or when he becomes a free agent.
However, the Lakers aren’t seriously considering acquiring Anthony, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times:
The Los Angeles Lakers have been widely mentioned as a chief rival to the Rockets once Anthony actually becomes a free agent, largely because the Lakers’ new face of the franchise is Melo’s close friend LeBron James. But it’s been suggested to me — strongly — that the Lakers’ interest is overstated.
Like with Anthony, there was speculation the Lakers would consider signing Chris Paul because of his friendship with LeBron James. But the two scenarios nonetheless never seemed plausible for a front office that’s largely remained disciplined.
The Lakers and Anthony were previously connected during the summer of 2014 when there was a hope to pair him with Kobe Bryant and help usher the franchise into a new era. Anthony instead opted to re-sign with the New York Knicks, with whom he found little success.
While the Lakers may be falling out of the market for Anthony, there’s a growing sense he will wind up with the Houston Rockets, who were one win shy of reaching the 2018 NBA Finals.
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