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Former GM: Carmelo Anthony leaving in free agency would be ‘doing Knicks a favor’

Mar 9, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

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The Knicks have won three straight and the playoffs, especially in the dreadful Eastern Conference, remain within reach. But gaining entry to the postseason and getting crushed by the Heat or the Pacers in the first round wouldn’t begin to take the sting away from what’s been an underachieving season.

What a playoff berth might do, however, is help convince Carmelo Anthony to re-sign in free agency.

Anthony can (and almost certainly will) opt out of the final year of his deal in order to sign a max contract this summer. Whether or not that will be with the Knicks remains to be seen, but at least one former front office executive believes New York might be better off if Anthony chooses to go elsewhere.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

“I really think if Carmelo left them, he may be doing them a favor,” said the ex-GM, who has no ties to the Knicks. “They probably don’t see it that way. But in the long run, it’s probably doing them a favor.”

The logic is that it would give the Knicks a chance to rebuild. They’ll have a boatload of cap space in the summer of 2015 — when Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani are scheduled to come off the books and Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge could hit the open market — and a first-round draft pick.

The problem is, the Knicks just aren’t that patient.

Rebuilding isn’t something the franchise has been willing to do, at least not in the traditional sense. New York is a market that requires a star player in the fold to keep the interest of the general population of the fan base, and even in a down year, Anthony has provided some incredible moments, including his 62-point performance a couple of months back.

New York will happily sign up for Anthony for five more seasons at the maximum contract level, despite it maybe not being the best long-term course of action. But this, too, could be a blessing, as few All-Stars want to be the first to commit to a new situation to see how it might turn out.

With one star in Anthony already in place, it should increase the likelihood of another being willing to join him — without the franchise going through the pain of rebuilding with a largely faceless roster.

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