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Carmelo Anthony admits his optimism is being tested. What about desire to stay in New York?

Feb 24, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic Getty Images

With 26 games left to go in the season, the New York Knicks are 5.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East. Let that sink in for a second. The eight seed Atlanta Hawks are on pace to win 39 games this season, to get there the Knicks need to go 18-8 the rest of the way.

It’s pretty hard to be optimistic if you’re a Knicks fan, especially after a loss to the Hawks this Saturday. Even if you are Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony has never missed the playoffs in 11 NBA seasons and was asked about possible missing the playoffs by Newsday:

“I can’t imagine what that’s like,” he said. “I’m not even trying to think about that at this point. We still got a lot of basketball to play.”

But Anthony admits his optimism is “definitely being tested” this season, and you wonder if his desire to stay with the Knicks is too.

Everything around the Knicks right now is about Anthony staying in New York.

At All-Star weekend Anthony said he would take less money to make the Knicks more competitive. Of course, if he’s taking less money he can do that by walking on to a Bulls team (after they amnesty Carlos Boozer) that is ready made to contend if Derrick Rose is healthy.

But Anthony wants to remain a Knicks.

“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay,” Anthony said while meeting with the media in New Orleans All-Star weekend. “That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together… My priority is not to just because I say I want to be a free agent, is to go leave. I never was a guy that comes into a situation and basically when it’s not going well to leave like that. That’s not my personality.”

But he also has to look at the Knicks roster and payroll situation and see that next season is going to look similar to this one — maybe they can make moves that shore up the perimeter defense and get the Knicks hitting threes again (two of the things missing from the 54-win team last year) but real improvement is not going to come until 2015 when the decks are cleared for some runs at free agents. Then, can the Knicks convince Rajon Rondo and/or Kevin Love to come?

It’s going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo Anthony. And each ugly Knicks loss makes it more interesting.

  1. casualcommenter - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    The New York Knicks will offer him the most money in terms of both his contract and endorsements. However, if he stays with the Knicks, he knows they have no draft picks this draft and will have no cap flexibility this offseason. New York’s salary cap gains a lot of space in the 2015 offseason, at which point the Knicks will be major players in free agency with Anthony, but 2014-2015 is going to be a tough season. The East was absolutely awful this year, yet this Knicks roster is fighting for the 8th seed, and the roster next year will look very similar.

    The Chicago Bulls probably offer Anthony the best chance to win in 2014 given that their team is stocked with good defenders and a good defensive coach. However, going to the Bulls would require that Carmelo lose money in terms of his next contract. He’d also go from hoping Amar’e Stoudamire’s knees hold up in New York the past couple of years to hoping Derrick Rose’s knees hold up in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

    He’ll probably choose the Knicks.

    • jcmeyer10 - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      I’d bet on D. Rose. Does he want to put down that 20 million dollar bet?

    • stevendizazzo - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      knicks, dump melo, he is not worth the money. melo is not a winner, he is soft.

    • irvfin3 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      If I’m Carmelo I’m waiting to see what the Knicks do in the offseason first what they can do to help build around me despite the cap salary. If Melo isn’t satisfied then he should join with the Bulls. God willing Derrick Rose should be good to go by next season.

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        God willing a guy who has two season ending knee injuries will come back to old form. Guys with knee issues never come back to old form. Betting on Rose is pretty risky right now.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      LeBron and Wade in Miami showed that if you win enough, you can easily make up the money lost in salary in increased endorsements.

    • godelleb - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      What makes anyone think the Bulls are interested? Their management is notoriously tight with money. They dumped Deng for essentially nothing of value in return, outside of saving money and avoiding a repeater tax. They will likely keep Boozer so as not to waste millions on a guy playing elsewhere. They have a highly regarded European player(Mirotic) to bring over with a pile of potential at the same position as Anthony. The Bulls will look to improve substantially in two years rather than this coming year.

    • chicagosports2014 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Awwwwww Melo it gett betta bruh!

  2. cltcsfan33 - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Wants to remain a KNICK. He isn’t multiple people. Seriously, hit me up, I can edit all your guys’ stuff, and cheaply too!

  3. mcmccii - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    See you in New Orleans, Melo!

  4. spillz121 - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    If he’s smart he will leave, and I’m a Knicks fan. Staying would mean he has faith in their front office to build a contender. And looking at their track record (other than the Donnie Walsh years) that’s not being realistic.

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Even if Melo were to stay, the team still wouldn’t win. They are way over the cap and Melo would make so much money and needs many other quality players around him in order to win a title.

      I don’t see any team winning a title with Melo as their #1 player…

      If Melo were to leave, then the Knicks would begin to have a chance in 2015 and beyond, but only slowly as they still don’t have many draft picks, but at least they’d begin to have some cap room after the 2015 season…

      • aboogy123456 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        I’d say you can definitely win with Melo as your number one player. Remember, the knicks are a big market and they are willing to go way over the salary cap unlike OKC for example, who I’m sure you think is a contender. Melo’s contract is not an issue.

        The issue is Amare getting $20 million, Bargnani getting $11 million, Chandler getting $15 million, even Felton getting close to $4 million. That’s $50 million going towards very little production. Like casualcommenter said above, next season will be rough, but they will actually be in very good shape the following summer.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      What did Donnie Walsh do that was so great and on top of that get credit for a Pacers team built by Larry Bird. Please he made just as many bad moves when running the Knicks.

      • jolink653 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Donnie Walsh completely revamped the dumpster fire that was the Knicks payroll when he took over. He cleared cap room to make a run at at least two max-contract players and had the Knicks develop some of their younger players in Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, and then Dolan threw all that progress away when he traded it all for Carmelo and used the amnesty clause to bring in Chandler. Walsh basically dug them out of one hole just to have Dolan dig an even bigger one after Walsh got fed up and left

      • cruzan80 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Your kidding right?

    • cruzan80 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      @ aboogy

      Well said sir. Amare, Bargnani & Chandler’s contracts are the actual problem for the Knicks…not Melo or his contract. The biggest question in all of this is whether Melo is willing to put up with garbage around him for another year or not. This summer he will most definitely have plenty of options that will be much more attractive than what’s going on in MSG. In my opinion, for wasting his talents…..I’m not sure if they deserve to have a player of his caliber. Other stars are watching this closely.

      • bkbell3 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:29 PM

        The problem is you can exceed the the cap to resign your own free agents but when those guys drop off the cap and melo signs at 24mil you have cap holds etc. then you don’t have 50 mil. in cap space you have more like 30mil. ish. But you could also try to resign some guys like chandler at a much smaller amount. This is why you had to sign JR smith, they were over the cap even if he walked so all you could replace him with was a min. contract guy.

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 24, 2014 at 11:35 PM

        And who signed Amare?

  5. Dan Gershenson - Feb 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    If he’s serious about winning a championship and that’s the only thing that truly matters to him, he wouldn’t stay in New York. Of course, I don’t believe him and think he’s still going to stay in New York because it offers him the most money, even though nobody significant is coming in free agency this season and I’d bet on Kevin Love to go home to L.A. in 2015. If Carmelo came to Chicago, he’d have a better coach and better supporting cast that’s actually going to make the playoffs this year without D-Rose, has multiple draft picks to potentially make a move and has additional help coming from the top player in Europe (Mrotic).

  6. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    The media is worse then 15 year old high school girls. He has said how many times he wants to remain a Knick and has said multiple times he will take less money yet you continue with the same head lines

    • knightrider1755 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      The Knicks stink.

  7. psubeerman21 - Feb 24, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    The NY Knicks – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you re-sign him, you are ridiculously over the cap, have terrible contracts that no one wants, and don’t have a meaningful draft pick for a while. In essence, this train wreck for at least two more years. And if you don’t? You are STILL over the cap, unable to sign a free agent. Your books still look terrible, you have no draft picks, AND you have no superstar. Your team is bad, really bad, for at least 4 years. Lesser of the two evils? Sign him. It’s the only move.

  8. knightrider1755 - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Walsh got the Knicks under the salary cap so they could afford to get Amare, Chandler and Melo. He cleaned up Isiah’s mess. That’s all.

  9. sdelmonte - Feb 24, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    I like Melo a lot and think he is a great player, but he’s not the guy to run the show. you have to build the team around someone better at the whole game. So if there were a way to let him go and save all the $$$ to get Rondo and Love, I would prefer that. If he comes back, the salary cap issues make creating a Big Three here very hard.

    That said, 1) we aren’t going to see the Knicks essentially take next season off, no matter what; and 2) there is no guarantee anyone like Rondo or Love comes here. So if Melo wants to stay, he stays.

    It’s really disheartening to root for this team. I root for four teams that aren’t so good now. And while I can look at the Mets and Isles and see signs of a brighter 2015, and look at the Giants and see that any NFL team can go from 7-9 to 11-5 in a hurry, the Knicks only offer more of the same and a talented but limited superstar who will never solve all their problems, no matter how many times he scores 50.

  10. basketballbro - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. It will all come down to whether or not Melo is willing to go through another sub-par season. If he is, the future (2015 summer) seems promising, and may bring another star/multiple good role players. If he is not willing to do so, his best bet is to leave and join a contender. My bet is that he would go to the Bulls if he decides to leave, but I think he would fit nicely in Phoenix (not sure how their cap space is though).

  11. unxpexted1 - Feb 24, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    wherever he goes, he really need go somewhere that has a bonafide floor general poing guard that can orchestrate an offense and not let him be the primary ball handler.

  12. leahcima1 - Feb 24, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    As a Heat fan I hope he stays in NYC. It’ll make it easier on us, unless he learns that basketball is a team sport, that is.

    • cantonbound13 - Feb 24, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      I’m sure Melo cares what the scum in Miami thinks.

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