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How to escape Carmelo Anthony’s giant contract

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NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not Carmelo Anthony’s fault that his game is aging and he’s getting less productive. It happens to all NBA players eventually. But many former stars on the decline find a way to age gracefully. Carmelo isn’t there.

Carmelo blamed his poor numbers this season on a slapdash role that wasn’t planned (which, fair) and reiterated that he is not willing to take a bench role, even at this point in his career. In fact, he called coming off the bench “out of the question.” He doesn’t realize that he’s no longer good enough to dictate his terms!

The Thunder can use this to their advantage. Anthony has a $28 million player option for next season. He is widely expected to pick it up. OKC should have Billy Donovan declare in so many words that the Thunder look forward to having Melo as a sixth man next season. Reassert control and make it clear that the $28 million comes with a deep price: a bench role. For whatever reason, Melo is deeply offended by the idea he wouldn’t start. Use that leverage to get him out of there.

Of course, that plan could go wildly wrong: Melo could ignore the threat and bring hot drama to the Thunder in training camp when the bench role actually starts to be implemented. The question is whether Russell Westbrook or Paul George, if he stays, would do anything one way or another.

Saturday’s Scores

Celtics 112, Bucks 96
Boston wins series 4-3
Recaps: CelticsBlog | Brew Hoop

Warriors 123, Pelicans 101
Golden State leads 1-0
Recaps: Golden State Of Mind | The Bird Writes

Sunday’s Schedule

Pacers at Cavaliers, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
Series tied 3-3

Jazz at Rockets, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Series tied 0-0

Links on Links on Links

Congratulations to the Celtics, who survived the first round despite losing a ridiculous amount of good players with injury (including Jaylen Brown in Game 7). The Bucks’ season is a story of missed opportunities.

Reminder: the Warriors are f---ing good. The Pelicans will not be going 16-0 in the playoffs.

I wrote about Paul George’s future.

Zito Madu on Victor Oladipo consistently proving us wrong.

LeBron in a Game 7! LeBron in a Game 7! This is not a drill. (And yes, LeBron is usually darn good in Game 7s.)

How Luka Doncic is dealing with physical play in the EuroLeague playoffs.

Welp, Rick Rubio is out 10 days with a hamstring injury. Game 1 against the Rockets is ... Sunday. Yikes!

Rajon Rondo calls Playoff Rondo a myth and says he wants to be a coach and general manager in the future.

Short newsletter this time. Be excellent to each other.