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Despite Being Traded to the Hawks,
Carmelo Anthony is a Certain Rocket Next Season

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder have finally found a way to get rid of Carmelo Anthony, sending the ten-time All-Star to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the talented German playmaker Dennis Schroder in a three-team trade that included the Sixers. Mike Muscala will join Philadelphia from the Hawks, while Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot moves to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Due to a massive luxury tax bill the Oklahoma City Thunder just had to waive or trade Carmelo Anthony to save a huge amount of money, so after just one season in the Thunder's jersey, Melo will be looking for a new team. There’s no reason why the Atlanta Hawks need to keep Melo on the roster, as they are in a team rebuilding mode, so waiving Anthony is the only reasonable move. Buying out Melo's contract and by getting rid Schroders 3-year $47M contract was exactly what the Hawks were looking to get out of this deal, not to mention that they are going to save a ton of money. Without any true stars on the team, the Hawks will rely on their first-round picks Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, while sophomores Taurean Prince and Josh Collins are expected to further develop their game.

On the other side, the Thunder acquired Dennis Schroder (19.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game last season) who has already stated he wants to leave Atlanta and join some successful franchise, and his quickness and penetration could be useful alongside Russel Westbrook and Paul George.

So, Carmelo Anthony will almost certainly become a free agent, and there were a lot of rumors about his destination at the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. The Hawks are at +1000 odds, according to some off-shore Sportsbooks, but as we’ve already said, Atlanta doesn’t need Melo, and they will most likely look to buy out his hefty $27.9M contract.

Pat Riley showed some interest in bringing Melo to the Miami Heat, although his roster is already in the luxury tax domain. Riley would certainly like to add Anthony alongside Dwyane Wade and challenge the Eastern Conference title, but at this moment, it looks like a tricky job and a quite expensive one. The Washington Wizards at +1000 are surely an interesting place for Melo who could bring more offensive power to John Wall and Bradley Beal, but their payroll is already expensive so this move also stays in limbo.

This year's party is set in the Western Conference with LeBron joining the Los Angeles Lakers, and after 17 years in the league, Carmelo could join James in LA and try to get his first NBA title. The Lakers are at +500 odds to acquire Melo, but their interest could be overstated, as Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are keen to develop their young core and gradually build the team around LeBron James. Likewise, the Lakers are still hunting for Kawhi Leonard whose future with the Raptors is still a mystery, so all these information lead us to the frontrunners – the Houston Rockets.

Last season, the Rockets were one victory away from the NBA Finals, losing 4-3 to the Warriors in the Western Conference Final, so Houston could be an ideal place for Carmelo Anthony who would sign and play for a veteran minimum. The Rockets are without a couple of forwards who took a big part in  last season's success. Trevor Ariza surprisingly joined the Phoenix Suns, while Luc Mbah a Moute went to the Los Angeles Clippers. Mbah a Moute averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game, while Ariza had 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals, shooting 36.8% from beyond the arc, so someone will have to make up these numbers. Houston had a tremendous season, winning 65 games and finishing on the top of the West, but they needed someone like Anthony in the playoffs, particularly after Chris Paul’s injury.

Despite the fact that the last season was the worst in Melo's career, the six-time All-NBA team nominee is still a prolific scorer who just couldn't settle into Oklahoma's style of play, averaging 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Melo's 40.4% from the field was his worst record ever, but he also set the record for the most 3-pointers in one season – 169, and this could be a great recommendation for the Houston Rockets.

Obviously, Carmelo cannot replace Ariza at the defensive end and the Rockets will have to find some new solutions in their defensive set up, but Melo could be a terrific spot-up shooter who can also make some buckets in the clutch time, so a reunion with coach Mike D'Antoni sounds like a reasonable move. We can argue about pros and cons all day long, but -200 odds on the Houston Rockets acquiring Melo in the coming days speak for itself.

Odds on the Teams Where Carmelo Anthony could start the 2018-19 NBA season

  • Houston Rockets -200
  • Los Angeles Lakers +500
  • Miami Heat +500
  • Toronto Raptors +800
  • Boston Celtics +950
  • Atlanta Hawks +1000
  • Washington Wizards +1000
  • Brooklyn Nets +2000
  • New York Knicks +5000
  • Field +800

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