Carmelo Anthony
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony is about to hit the market via life after the Thunder, and the Rockets, Lakers and Heat could be interested.

The Houston Rockets are expected to make a play for small forward Carmelo Anthony once he is bought out by the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN reported earlier in the day that Oklahoma City and the 10-time All-Star would part ways over the summer so the Thunder could shed salary from their record $310 million payroll in advance of what would otherwise be a $150 million luxury tax bill.

Anthony, 34, opted in for the 2017-18 season earlier in the offseason and was set to earn $27.8 million with the Thunder next season. Thanks to a stretch provision, as Wojnarowski and Young reported, Oklahoma City is expected to save $90 million in tax and a total of $107 million in tax and payroll in next season’s budget.

Anthony, himself, is expected to secure free agency via a buyout with Oklahoma City or via a trade to a team that will just waive him after the fact, at which point the Rockets would come a-calling.

Houston is an interesting destination for Carmelo Anthony, to say the least. His friendship with Rockets point guard Chris Paul is well-known, and he would be joining a starting lineup that already features reigning MVP, James Harden. Houston could also bring back restricted free agent center Clint Capela.

But there are other factors to consider in terms of Anthony choosing Houston over teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat, both of whom Wojnarowski and Young linked to the former scoring champion in their earlier report. The Rockets play a fast-paced offense and Anthony averaged a career-low 16.5 points per game in Oklahoma City last year, and he also shot a career-worst 40.4% from the field.

Not only that, but Anthony’s relationship with Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t exactly what one would call good. The two notoriously butted heads during D’Antoni’s tenure as head coach of the New York Knicks because of Anthony’s struggles in the coach’s system, so much that D’Antoni unceremoniously resigned partway through the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

Granted, a story from Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle detailed how much D’Antoni evolved his offense in Houston beyond just scoring as many points in as little amount of time, but there are times when personalities just class.

But the fact remains that Carmelo Anthony is one of the top scorers in the game and could be a boon to a Rockets team that took the eventual champion Golden State Warriors to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The former New York Knick isn’t done yet and if he wants to win, Houston could wind up being an excellent spot for him.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.