Although many of the big questions surrounding NBA free agency have been answered, another has recently emerged. After Carmelo Anthony opted in to the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the two sides have mutually agreed to part ways at some point this summer. It is not yet known when this will happen, or whether Anthony will be traded or simply bought out, but one thing is clear: Anthony won’t be playing for the Thunder next season.

As he looks to find his third team in three seasons, Anthony already has multiple suitors. The Lakers — who boast Anthony’s good friend LeBron James — are reportedly interested. So, too, are the Houston Rockets — where Anthony’s other close friend Chris Paul plays — and the Miami Heat

According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are preparing to make a strong push for Anthony after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. In addition, the Rockets and Heat will reportedly be a “premium consideration” for Anthony. Via ESPN:

The Rockets have lost Mbah a Moute, 31, and Trevor Ariza, and plan to ramp up a pursuit of Carmelo Anthony once he becomes available after a trade and buyout, or waive and stretch, with Oklahoma City, league sources told ESPN.

The Thunder could waive-and-stretch Anthony’s $27.9 million salary — saving the franchise $107 million in salary and tax — within the next seven to 10 days should they be unable to find a trade, league sources said. The Rockets will be a premium consideration for Anthony — along with the Miami Heat, league sources said. 

Just a few days after Wojnarowski’s report, his old colleague Shams Charania noted Friday that the Rockets have become ‘strong front-runners’ to acquire Anthony once he parts ways with the Thunder. 

After how poorly Anthony played last season with the Thunder, it’s interesting that so many playoff teams are eager to pick him up. Yes, he’s still talented, and one of the best players of his generation, but it’s hard to see how Anthony is doing much to help these teams at this point in his career. For the Rockets, especially, going from Ariza and Mbah a Moute to Michael Carter-Williams and Anthony would be quite a blow. 

Regardless, it will be fascinating to not only watch this story develop, but to see how Anthony plays next season — wherever that may be. 

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