When the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony during the offseason, the prevailing thought was that he was the missing piece to a championship run.
The Thunder had just acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, and with Anthony, now had a lethal big three with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook as the main cog.
After enduring all the drama with ex-Knicks president Phil Jackson over the past few seasons, coupled with New York being a terrible franchise, Anthony got the fresh start he needed when he was traded to the Thunder — ending his seven-year run in the Big Apple.
Despite a reduced role on offense, all year Anthony said he was enjoying every minute being around a winning culture and playing alongside Westbrook and George.
The oncourt results for Anthony, however, were not good.
In 78 regular season games, Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game and shot only 40.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three.
Never known to be a good defender, Anthony, now 33, struggled trying to stay in front of people on defense and opposing teams attacked him at will.
The Thunder still managed to get the No. 4 seed in the rugged Western Conference despite Anthony’s poor play and faced off against the Utah Jazz in the first-round of the playoffs.
If you thought Anthony struggled in the regular season, his postseason play was on another level, and not in a good way.
In the six-game series loss to the Jazz, Anthony averaged 11.8 points while shooting a woeful 37.5 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Thunder had an offensive rating of 98.6 when Anthony was on the court compared to 116.8 when he was on the bench.
To make matters even worse for OKC, Anthony has a player-option worth $28 million for next season, one that he is surely going to pick up because he’s not getting that type of money on the open market.
The Thunder’s biggest priority this summer is likely going to be trying to re-sign George, but they might need to ask Anthony to take some type of pay cut so that the front office has more money to work with to improve the roster.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan defended Anthony, saying, “I don’t think two (playoff) games should put into a microcosm what Carmelo did the entire season.” But even Donovan has to know his offense just runs more smoothly without Melo.
When OKC went on their huge run in the Game 5 comeback at home, Anthony was on the bench the whole time.
It’s going to be an interesting offseason in OKC, but one thing is for certain, the Thunder have a serious Carmelo Anthony problem that needs to be addressed.