Basketball: Anthony set for free agency after three-team NBA deal

Anthony (above, left) of the Oklahoma City Thunder driving past Derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz .
Anthony (above, left) of the Oklahoma City Thunder driving past Derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz .PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Carmelo Anthony will become a free agent after being a key figure in a three-team NBA trade on Thursday (July 19) involving the Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers, according to reports.

The 34-year-old forward, a three-time Olympic champion for the United States and 10-team NBA All-Star, will be paid his entire US$27.9 million (S$38 million) contract and have the freedom to join any club, with the Houston Rockets reportedly in hot pursuit.

According to ESPN and Yahoo Sports, the deal will see the Thunder send Anthony and a 2022 first-round NBA Draft pick to Atlanta for German guard Dennis Schroder and forward Mike Muscala.

The Hawks will then buy out Anthony's contract and release him, making him a free agent provided he clears waivers, a likely move since few teams could afford to absorb the financial burden of his 2018-19 salary.

Then under the overall deal, Muscala will go to the 76ers and Philadelphia will send forward Justin Anderson to Atlanta and French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Oklahoma City.

The complex maneuver came about because Anthony opted in to his contract with the Thunder, but they wanted to part ways with the 15-season NBA veteran.

The move lets the Thunder save some money under NBA salary cap rules, almost US$100 million according to ESPN, and gives Anthony not only the money but free agency.

Anthony scored a career-low 16.2 points and grabbed 5.8 rebounds last season for Oklahoma City working alongside Paul George and 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook.

If a deal works out with the Rockets, Anthony would join a club that was within one win over Golden State of reaching the NBA Finals, a club sparked by NBA scoring champion and 2018 NBA MVP James Harden and backcourt partner Chris Paul.

Golden State won a third NBA title in four seasons last month, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors have added centre DeMarcus Cousins, who is coming off a torn left Achilles tendon, so Anthony will add to the superteam lineups of the Western Conference, which already includes Cleveland star LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month.