With preseason expectations sky-high after adding forwards Carmelo Anthony and Paul George in the same offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder ended their campaign in disappointing fashion.
The Thunder went out in six games during the opening round of the NBA Playoffs and there are plenty of flaws one can blame for their loss. An absurdly heavy reliance on Russell Westbrook may be chief of these but the disappearance of Carmelo Anthony has to be right up there as well.
Melo strung together putrid performances throughout the series and the skepticism around whether he’s the right fit with OKC continues to grow. One thing Melo is certain not to do is welcome a bench role next season. Following from ESPN’s Royce Young.
Melo asked about possibly coming off the bench: "I'm not sacrificing no bench role. So that's out of the question."
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 28, 2018
This idea had been proposed during earlier junctures throughout the season as well when it looked like OKC wasn’t clicking. Of the starters, Carmelo Anthony would be the logical fit for a bench role due to his volume shooting and how marginalized he has become alongside Westbrook and George.
As the third wheel, Melo has been relegated to almost exclusively a jump shooter. Though this may have been a plus in years past when he was known for holding the ball too often, taking a backseat offensively is not Melo’s game and he knows it. The veteran forward let it be known during his exit interview that his role within the team has always been a little confusing.
Melo came into exit interviews and burned the damn practice facility to ash: "It wasn't no strategy to me being here, me being a part of the actual system and what type of player and things like that…I don't think I can be effective as that type of player. " pic.twitter.com/Wjeh8HjE3K
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 28, 2018
Major shakeups could be on the way in Oklahoma City and rightfully so. They were expected to be a dangerous playoff threat and instead looked like a team with a dysfunctional offense and a glaring lack of chemistry.
Anthony could opt into his $28M player option for next season which seems like the likeliest and most logical route. Paul George, on the other hand, could be out the door, making the Carmelo situation that much more intriguing.
Though he’s one of the best scorers of this generation, Anthony is now merely a shell of his former self and he may have to come to terms with this before any progress is made. However if George bolts, Anthony could all of a sudden be in for an expanded role next season depending on the rest of OKC’s summer, making Melo’s offseason one to keep a close eye on.