Top Stories

Carmelo Anthony says time with Oklahoma City Thunder 'wasn't a good fit'

Carmelo Anthony is a member of the Atlanta Hawks, finding his way there yesterday via a three-team trade between his old team (the Oklahoma City Thunder), the Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers. Talk of Anthony and the Thunder looking to part ways after one season together had been bandied about for nearly a month before the move was officially consummated.

Now comes the next step for Anthony, which more than likely involve the former All-Star being bought out by Atlanta and him entering the free-agent market. Once there, he is expected to sign with the title-contending Houston Rockets.

For Anthony, though, this offseason process of transactions has been an eye-opening one of sorts. ESPN’s Jemele Hill spoke with Anthony yesterday about the move and what lies ahead in his career:

“To get bought out, to get waived, you were looked at like, you’re done,” said Anthony, who was in Washington, D.C., to attend a private Nike event Wednesday night. “Now, it’s just almost like the norm. If something doesn’t work, go ahead and get a buyout or go ahead and get traded. That’s the new norm in our society in basketball. I had to get over that.

“I had a conversation with my wife and family. I said to them, I’m not taking no buyout. I’m not getting waived. And they said, at the end of the day, nobody is going to know that. You have to do what you have to do. It’s going to be a blip on your radar. It’s on to the next chapter. It took me a while to get to that point where I’m like, OK, I’m going to accept it.”

Anthony was coy about the possibility of joining the Rockets. Coincidentally, video footage of him playing basketball with James Harden and good friend Chris Paul in Los Angeles made the rounds on social media Wednesday.

“Obviously, we’re just trying to figure it out,” Anthony said. “Everybody knows about the trade to Atlanta. I think everything is trying to get cleared right now. I’ll let the people do what they do. I just sit back and when the time comes, and the call gets made, we’ll make that move.”

The Thunder made a big splash last summer when they acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers via trade and then traded to get Anthony from the New York Knicks months later. However, Anthony never quite meshed in Oklahoma City with George and former Kia MVP Russell Westbrook.

The 34-year-old Anthony had been the headliner his entire career – he’s 19th in NBA history with 25,417 points – but he was more of a catch-and-shoot scorer last season instead of the isolation specialist he had always been. He averaged 16.2 points per game, but struggled at times in his new role. His playing time dwindled in the playoffs and he wasn’t happy. In Game 6 of the first-round playoff series against Utah that ended Oklahoma City’s season, he played fewer minutes than his backup, Grant.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young reported in early July that the Thunder were looking to trade Anthony to help trim their overall salary cap and luxury tax situations. Hill reports that Anthony and his representatives worked with the Thunder to find a solution, which resulted in the trade to Atlanta.

In looking back on his 2017-18 season with OKC, Anthony simply feels things did not work out how anyone expected.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t a good fit,” he said. “I think last year — and I haven’t talked about this before — everything was just so rushed, going to the team for media day and the day before training camp. Them guys already had something in place, and then I come along in the 25th hour like, oh s—, Melo just come on and join us. Like, you can figure it out since you’ve been around the game for a long time. That’s why it was so inconsistent. At times, I had to figure it out on my own rather than somebody over there or people over there helping me.”

While no deal has been reached yet with the Rockets and Anthony is still technically on the Hawks, the potential of playing for a team that was one win from The Finals is an enticing one for Anthony.

“I think winning, at the end of the day, rewrites everything,” he said. “It settles everything. I also look back at this past year. When we were winning, the story was written already. When we started losing, the story is written. It’s almost premeditated. I’m playing ball. I’m happy. I’m excited about what’s to come, wherever that may be.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.