ATLANTA — We knew this day would come, and here it is.
On Monday, the Atlanta Hawks officially waived Carmelo Anthony, just 11 days after the club acquired the 10-time All-Star in a three-way trade with the Thunder and 76ers.
Why did the Hawks drop Anthony? It's simple. The future Hall of Famer has a full no-trade clause on his existing contract, which expires after this season.
Armed with supreme leverage, Anthony would never have approved the trade to the rebuilding Hawks ... unless it involved an imminent release, thus freeing 'Melo to join forces with a franchise in win-now mode.
Consequently, expect Anthony to quickly sign with a contender in the West, likely the Rockets, Lakers, Blazers or Spurs.
Atlanta's benefits for consummating the complicated deal are threefold:
a) The Hawks aren't on the hook for Dennis Schroder's remaining salary of three years and $46.5 million, since the Thunder were willing to absorb the entire contract.
b) Anthony's $27.9 million salary formally comes off the books at season's end. As such, the Hawks can use that expiring contract to clear roughly $53 million for next summer's free agency period (source: Spotrac.com).
The NBA stars set for unrestricted free agency in 2019 include: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Al Horford, Kemba Walker, Tobias Harris and Eric Bledsoe.
c) Atlanta will collect a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2022 from Oklahoma City.
**Atlanta receives: Carmelo Anthony's expiring contract, Justin Anderson, 2022 first-round pick
**Philadelphia gets: Mike Muscala
**Oklahoma City receives: Dennis Schroder, European prospect Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot