Free Agency

Five options for Carmelo Anthony if he becomes a free agent

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Carmelo Anthony (Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony might soon be a free agent. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Thunder are in the process of parting ways with the 10-time All-Star following a season in which he struggled to fit in with the franchise's All-Star backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

If Anthony does become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he is expected to sign with a championship contender on a veteran-minimum contract. Those qualifiers rule out a number of teams and leave with him five realistic destinations, plus three wild cards.

From the Rockets to the 76ers, let's look at each of them in more detail...

Houston Rockets

It wasn't long ago that the Rockets were pursuing Anthony, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they are interested in signing him if he becomes a free agent this summer.

Of all the possible teams Anthony could sign with, Houston would be his best shot at starting for a title contender next season. The Rockets have other options to fill Trevor Ariza's void - they could, for example, promote Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker into the starting lineup - but his experience playing with Chris Paul and James Harden on Team USA, plus his familiarity with Mike D'Antoni's system, might pave the way for him to be their starting small forward/power forward.

Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony's fit on the Lakers is trickier than the Rockets because LeBron James and Brandon Ingram are expected to start at small forward and power forward for Los Angeles moving forward. Unless one of them is willing to play shooting guard (which is unlikely), Anthony would have to come off the bench for the Lakers to be a realistic destination.

Anthony might be more receptive to that idea than he was in Oklahoma City because of his relationship with LeBron. With the Lakers being thin on 3-point shooters and scorers, it helps that he'd have an opportunity to contribute to a team looking to make the playoffs next season and contend with the Rockets and Warriors in the Western Conference.

Miami Heat

The Heat are a defensive-minded team that ranked 20th in offensive efficiency last season. They might struggle even more on offense next season if they fail to re-sign Wayne Ellington, an unrestricted free agent who had the second-highest offensive rating on the team in 2017-18.

If Anthony still wants to be the star attraction before he chases rings, a Miami team missing a go-to scorer might be at the top of his list. The Heat are reportedly one of the three teams interested in him if he becomes a free agent, too.

An added bonus is that Dwyane Wade, an unrestricted free agent himself this offseason, could return to the Heat for another year. The final member of the "Banana Boat" crew, moving to South Beach with Wade would reunite Anthony with one of his closest friends.

Golden State Warriors

Nothing can be ruled out after DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors this offseason.

If Anthony's priority is winning a title, Golden State makes the most sense. He already has a Hall of Fame resume with 10 All-Star appearances, six All-NBA selections, three Olympic gold medals and one NCAA championship. With an NBA championship being the only thing missing - other than an MVP trophy, of course - the next logical step is to play for a team expected to win it all next season.

The Warriors could use another shooter as well. Despite averaging a career-low 16.2 points per game last season, Anthony made a career-high 169 3-pointers, doing so at a 35.7 percent clip. Bringing him off the bench would give the defending champions an interesting option at either forward spot.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers proved to be a team on the rise last season. Built around their budding core of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, they won 52 games and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

While they have the brightest future on this list, the 76ers could find themselves in a position to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals next season, especially now that they don't have to worry about going through LeBron in the Eastern Conference. Although Anthony wouldn't likely start for them, Philadelphia needs more depth at small forward and power forward.

The 76ers could also use someone who can create shots in one-on-one situations to prevent teams from loading up on Simmons and Embiid in the playoffs. Anthony isn't the isolation scorer he once was, but he ranked in the 58.2 percentile with 0.89 points per isolation possession last season.

Wild cards

Washington Wizards - Because a starting lineup of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Anthony and Dwight Howard sure is fascinating on paper.

Portland Trail Blazers - Portland was reportedly interested in trading for Anthony before Oklahoma City acquired him last offseason. The Blazers would benefit from having a playmaker at the forward position.

New Orleans Pelicans - There's no such thing as having too many shooters around Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis.

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