Carmelo Anthony signing with the Houston Rockets has seemed like a foregone conclusion for some time now, but it’s getting closer to becoming a reality. The former Oklahoma City Thunder and current Atlanta Hawk won’t be for long, as the Hawks are expected to waive Anthony in the coming days after a three-team trade made Anthony’s contract property of Atlanta last week.
But the move is just a way for the Thunder to get out from under Anthony’s $27.9 million contract, as they had the highest luxury tax penalty in NBA history and were looking to get out of that situation in a hurry. Atlanta, meanwhile, will waive Anthony and then pay him that contract in its entirety, as they are satisfied to get Dennis Schröder off the books and netted a protected first round pick in the process.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported on Monday that Anthony joining the Rockets is all but a sure deal, with the move “looming.” He also provided a few more details about what will happen once the Hawks waive Anthony.
The biggest news in the report is not the destination for Anthony, which seems decided long ago. But though it also may be obvious, it’s still notable that the Rockets will only have to pay him a veteran minimum contract to get his services this season.
The Hawks have pledged to release Anthony once the trade is complete, according to the people, which will allow him to earn next season’s scheduled $27.9 million salary — as stipulated by the original five-year contract he signed with the Knicks in the summer of 2014 — and then sign with Houston upon clearing waivers. He is expected to receive a one-year deal from the Rockets at the league’s veteran minimum salary of $2.4 million.
Anthony will clear waivers 48 hours after Atlanta formally lets him go, enabling him to then sign with the team of his choice. Rockets officials have been operating under the strong belief that Anthony will soon be Houston-bound since meeting with him face-to-face during summer-league play in Las Vegas earlier this month.
James Harden has spoken in favor of signing Anthony, and the Rockets could use some frontcourt help with the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. Stein reported that the Rockets have talked about acquiring Anthony for more than a year, but in waiting they managed not to give up any assets in a trade last summer, and will now pay him the smallest amount possible according to the CBA. Anthony will still get paid handsomely, of course, but the big checks will be coming from Atlanta.