The Oklahoma City Thunder became the first team to surpass the $300 million mark in payroll and luxury tax responsibility by agreeing to sign free agent Ray Felton on July 3.
Felton’s deal is for one-year and worth $2.4 million which was large enough to push the Thunder’s salary to over $158 million. Meaning that the Thunder are more than $35 million over the luxury tax threshold, therefore their tax is currently calculated at approximately $144.5 million. OKC currently has 13 players under contract.
Thunder, with Paul George at 4/$137M and Jerami Grant at 3/$27M, now have 11 players under contract, at $156M+. A 14-player roster would be $161M + repeater taxes of $155M = $316M total. A Carmelo Anthony stretch and replace with min would save $91M in taxes, as things stand.
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) July 1, 2018
Stretching Carmelo would produce a $9.3M dead-money cap hit for 3 seasons. That’d be painful. Including it would take the Thunder to $135M to just 7 players in 2019-20, and $128M to just 5 players in 2020-21. The luxury tax lines are projected at $132M and $141M, respectively.
Russell Westbrook will earn $35m next season, Paul George $30.5m, Carmelo Anthony $27.9m and Steven Adams ($24m). At this moment, Oklahoma City Thunder have the most expensive roster in NBA history and we’ll see Sam Presti’ next move.
The best case for the OKC is to trade Carmelo Anthony, but who will accept his contract?
The alternative is to strech Carmelo Anthony’ contract, but according to Tom Ziller, there is the case against stretching Melo:
Here’s the problem with the stretch: because of massive contracts for George and Russell Westbrook, plus smaller but still significant commitments to Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and now Jerami Grant, 2018-19 isn’t the only year the Thunder are in cap hell. Granted, once Anthony’s contract comes off the books next summer, the nine-figure luxury tax bills end. But the Thunder would still be in the luxury tax going forward.
And stretching Melo would make that worse.
Adding $9 million in dead cap weight in 2019-20 would really hurt OKC’s ability to add talent with the mid-level exception without drawing huge luxury tax bills. By deferring Melo’s contract over three years, the Thunder would make 2018-19 easier to swallow while making it harder to add help for Westbrook and George so long as they have them.
Last season, Carmelo had 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and only 1.3 assists per game. Maybe is time for the OKC to resolve Carmelo Anthony situation as soon as possible.