The NBA rules when it comes to trades, buyouts and signings are complicated. Such was the case when, on Thursday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to trade forward Carmelo Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks for a pair of players. The Hawks are expected to release Anthony making him an unrestricted free agent.
We won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say, the deal saves OKC a ton of money. They were way over the luxury tax threshold which requires teams pay dollar-for-dollar amounts for any salary over a certain point. They could have simply released Anthony using a league rule that would allow them to stretch his salary over several seasons, but the trade was better for them in this instance.
Regardless, Anthony will soon be a free agent and Houston may be his next stop.
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It has been known since the end of the season that OKC intended to part ways with Anthony. Just last week, Anthony was given permission by the Thunder to meet with both the Rockets and the Heat in anticipation of his release. Sources around the league believe Houston is the frontrunner and there have been reports the Rockets are optimistic they can bring him into the fold.
It could take several days for the trade to be finalized and Anthony to clear waivers, however, he can agree to a deal with either Houston or Miami at any time and some believe that could happen quickly.
The Rockets have been pursuing the All-Star forward since 2014. Anthony would join his friend, Chris Paul, and a team loaded for another run at the Western Conference title. There remain questions as to how Anthony would fit on this team and still issues to address with the roster, but we won't bother dissecting those until after the Rockets land him, if they are indeed able to do that.
For now, the speed of a potential deal certainly just sped up.