(Photo Credentials: USA Today)
Paul George's contract is at the forefront of attention for OKC officials as well as other teams that hope to make a splash in free agency this year. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony's decision to opt-in for 2018-19 is in flux [although many of us know the end-result]. What are the scenarios in which OKC operates regarding the two players? Of course, if Presti had his choice, he would likely pick Melo to leave, then roll with PG as another cornerstone piece-- but that's an unlikely outcome according to the national basketball pundits. Let's look at some loose scenarios.
1. If PG stays and Melo leaves (or gets bought out), the starting lineup of Russ-Dre-PG-2Pat-Steven is pretty nice. It's a lineup that defends well, stretches the floor, moves the ball well, and understands their own role. This is the ideal situation, however, I think keeping Melo is important for the chemistry glue of Melo-Russ-PG.
2. The much bigger question is, "what if Paul George leaves?" We know that Melo is incredibly likely to opt into his contract regardless of what happens with PG. Some say that OKC should blow it all up and trade Russ or Adams (maybe both) for picks and a future-- essentially pulling the plug for a rebuild. Does Presti roll with Melo in this squad? Or will he release him to Free Agency or somehow trade him (unlikely right now)?
I know my colleagues may disagree, but I'd roll with Melo in this scenario and pull him down to the 3. It could be a Russ-Dre-Melo-Grant (possibly 2Pat)-Adams lineup. In this scenario, Dre and Grant/2Pat are to mask Melo's defensive shortcomings, but also it's necessary to incorporate Melo into the offense more than a catch-and-shoot figure. You'd also hope that Abrines and Ferguson have developed more as well. Is that team serviceable? yes. Is it championship caliber? no.
3. Paul George leaves, Melo is bought out: This is what many fans are hoping for if PG should decide to bounce from OKC. Of course Presti would still be on the hook for Melo's salary-- a gaping $20M+ hole in the cap room for the team. This option hopefully provides an outlet in the fashion that Melo and OKC Front Office can negotiate him out of a full contract in order to sign a player or two of substance. But it would certainly leave OKC spent, with a little more than half a filled roster.
- Melo isn't a terrible player, he appeared to be a fish out of water on offense, but completely dead on defense. If the option is to blow a massive hole in the salary cap for the sake of not better incorporating his talents-- that would be a shame. The roster is roughly the same if you choose to buy him out as well; except there is one less player on contract and all the money is still being spent for Anthony's contract. Serge Ibaka mentioned not playing as intense on defense if his role on offense was slim to none as he wasn't getting his shots-- that could be the same with Carmelo.
If Paul George stays, that's wonderful. If he leaves, that sucks, and it changes the makeup of the team and possibly the conference-- but I don't think it's necessary to oust Melo just because he wasn't in a role that he would be forced in if George should exit.
What do you think? leave a comment below or tweet at us via @The_Uncontested