Mar 5, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
Every player says it. Carmelo Anthony is saying it. It’s is some variant of “I’m not about the money, I’m about winning.”
Then the money goes on the table and it’s all about the money.
That’s the choice facing Carmelo Anthony this summer — a big payday from the Knicks and trust them to rebuild over a few seasons, or take a pay cut to go to a contender. Maybe a steep pay cut.
But the Knicks’ salary-cap situation is such that if they re-sign Anthony they’ll have to wait until 2015 to add that second star. For one, I’m hearing that Anthony’s camp is interested only in the summer of 2014. They don’t want to hear about 2015. And they’re right. Anthony will be 31 with a lot of NBA miles on his legs before reinforcements arrive.
This is the New York media, they are more than happy to stir up questions and the fan base. Still, Isola makes a good argument that the smart long-term move for the Knicks is to let Anthony walk as a free agent this summer — be bad for another year and in 2015 they will have a high pick (they still have that one, can’t trade it) and a lot of cap space. However, all indications are that Plan A and Plan B and Plan C in the Knicks’ front office is to bring back Anthony. The team switched general managers to a guy with a better relationship with CAA — which represents Anthony — for that purpose.
Which means Anthony is going to have a pretty stark choice this summer.
The New York Knicks can offer the most money — starting at $22 million plus one more guaranteed year on the end of the deal. Nobody is going to match that. But the Knicks roster next season will look a lot like the 21-40 team this season — the massive contracts of Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler (plus ‘Melo) would make really meaningful moves difficult. Maybe they can shake things up at the draft of in July, but meaningful change is not likely. The real plan is a 2015 rebuild with free agents when those other guys come off the books — Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo and others are potential free agents that summer. Convince them to join ‘Melo in NYC.
Anthony has said repeatedly — and to PBT on All-Star weekend — that he wants to stay a Knick and would take less money to do so but he needs to see what their plan for rebuilding the roster really looks like. The next question becomes should Anthony trust the Knicks management to rebuild a winner around him? New York will always be a draw to free agents, but this franchise has won one playoff series in a decade. Smart rebuilds have not been a tradition in New York under current ownership.
Of course, if Anthony wants to jump to a contender he is going to have to take a pay cut. Maybe a steep one.
The Chicago Bulls often get mentioned as a likely destination (and they make the best roster sense on paper), but if all they do is amnesty Carlos Boozer they will be able to offer roughly $14 million a year for four years (depending on other moves). If the Bulls shed Taj Gibson’s salary they can get up closer to $20 million, but it cuts into their depth. If I were Chicago I’d make the lower offer and keep the young core of the team (Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Gibson, Jimmy Butler) together.
(There was some Miami speculation out there, which can be best described as radically far fetched. Basically their existing big three would opt out and take pay cuts down to less than $15 million a year, then Anthony would do the same. Good luck with all that.)
Anthony’s other options are limited. The Lakers are not interested. Dallas might be but that is Dirk Nowitzki’s team, plus you need a ball dominant point guard with Anthony to limit his tendency to be a black hole on offense (passes go in but nothing comes out). The Clippers don’t have the cap space and aren’t trading Blake Griffin for him (that is a Knicks’ fantasy that has no basis in Clipper reality).
So what will it be ‘Melo? Contending or money?
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