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Source on Carmelo Anthony’s free agent decision: ‘If he makes the choice to opt out, I think he’s gone’

Jun 21, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks Getty Images

Phil Jackson has already proven to have at least a basic understanding of what’s required to begin to turn the Knicks around during his short time in office as the team’s president of basketball operations.

The plea made to Carmelo Anthony to opt in for the final year of his contract at more than $23 million was a smart one, because it would buy Jackson some time to pursue free agents in the summer of 2015, when Anthony could choose to sign for less money in order for the team to add championship pieces around him.

It’s a highly unlikely scenario, because simply from the financial side, it’s too risky for Anthony not to take a new max contract the moment the collective bargaining agreement allows it.

But while many believed that he would opt out to re-sign a max deal to stay with the Knicks — something the team would surely offer — some now feel that if Anthony opts out of his deal, it would mean a return to New York is far less likely.

From Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal:

The team’s star forward, Carmelo Anthony, has until Monday to decide if he wants to opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market, something he has long indicated that he wants to do. Once he makes that choice, the Knicks—and all of the NBA—will have a much clearer sense of whether Anthony has played his last home game in New York.

“If he makes the choice to opt out, I think he’s gone,” said one person familiar with the matter.

That’s because Anthony, for as much as he has talked about potentially taking a pay cut to help the Knicks build a winner around him, would actually be hindering the team by becoming a free agent. Despite the possibility that he could opt out and then re-sign for less money, there really is no immediate benefit in that for the Knicks, who are hopelessly over the league’s salary cap anyway until 2015.

Another telling line from that piece: “the Knicks would still be more than $4 million over the cap in 2014 even if Anthony somehow could take a $1 salary.”

Due to the team’s irresponsible decisions in the past, 2014 remains a lost cause in terms of transforming the roster. Because of this, the thinking is that Anthony signing a max deal to stay in New York doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if winning is the priority, either immediately or at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The Bulls, for example, could give Anthony a max deal by amnestying Carlos Boozer and making some other minor moves. Chicago would be immediately elevated to the status of contender with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson already in place, though it would cost Anthony a large chunk of change ($30 million or so) if in fact he makes that decision.

That’s what it’s going to come down to where Anthony is concerned. If he wants the most money possible, he’ll re-sign in New York for a five-year max deal that will hurt the franchise in terms of its ability to provide him with a championship-caliber supporting cast.

If winning is truly the priority, however, he could take less money to stay. But nothing is guaranteed in terms of the Knicks being able to add talent in free agency, so the easier route to success might simply be to sign with an already-built contender somewhere else.

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    This of course, is more wishful thinking from people who want to see him out of New York, as they glaze over the fact that Chandler will be moved, and Bargnani and Felton are likely to be moved, also.

    • adoombray - Jun 21, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      The only place Bargnani is moving, is back to Europe after his big contract his up because no NBA team is going to touch him.

    • Kevin S. - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      For what, pray tell?

  2. cantonbound13 - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    To quote the Zen Master: “I’m not going to lose sleep over this”.

  3. mazblast - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    I think the Zen Master would prefer that Anthony opt out and leave. Down the road, it would give Phil even more excuses for why his tenure as the boss of the Knicks will have proven to be a disaster. Remember, it’s never Phil’s fault when things go wrong, and always about him when things go right. This is the world of a “Zen Master”.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      Excellent comment. The Knicks suck, New Yawk’s a Hellhole for arrogant pricks.

  4. canadatude - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Who is going to take the Knicks garbage contracts? They have no more draft choices. Tough spot to be in. Good luck, Phil.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      If teams are willing to take Jeremy Lin & his big contract, there are teams that will take the Knicks’ garbage contracts because the majority of them expire after the season.

      • Kevin S. - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        As does Jeremy Lin’s. Lin is actually a useful player.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        He’s an overpaid role player at best

      • Kevin S. - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Which is more useful than what the Knicks’ expirings are right now. The balloon payment is an issue with certain teams, but for others the cap number is all that matters. Those teams have no problem with one year of Lin at $8.3 million.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        This guy is fooling himself if he thinks Lin is more productive than Bargnani LMAO

  5. sportsfan18 - Jun 21, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Winning or money?


    Melo has ALREADY earned OVER $135 million in on court salary alone plus whatever else in endorsements on top of that…

    Wherever he signs, it will be for tens and tens of millions of dollars more.

    Yes, I KNOW it could be for tens of millions less if not in New York, but after the next 4 seasons or so on a team other than the Knicks, Melo will be around $200 million in on court earnings alone and over that amount with endorsements.

    Then, he’ll still probably play a few more seasons beyond 4 more yrs so even a conservative estimate of his career earnings will be at least $250 million by the time he’s around 36 yrs old and it most likely will be higher than that.

    So, IS money really involved here? Or is it simply winning?

    I get a player trying to move on for bucks when he’s make like $17 million total in his career and he has a chance to go sign a 4 yr $32 million deal… if he can get, he needs to take it even if it’s on a bad team.

    But, at SOME point, say a couple of hundred million dollars in earnings, is it really about money?

    I don’t know, maybe it is for some…

  6. cbwv1974 - Jun 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Nobody seems to be thinking that if the Bulls amnesty Boozer, his 1st choice will be the Heat. He could play for peanuts because of already getting paid by the bulls. not a bad 4th option foe the heaters

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 21, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      Plus he lives there. Smart comment.

  7. muathjam21 - Jun 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Brutal. Your star player is likely to leave, you have no draft picks, and you have a bunch of untradeable bad contracts. It’s gonna take a miracle for the Knicks to be competitors in the near future.

  8. JT - Jun 21, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Melo better opt out

  9. xli2006 - Jun 21, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    The Knicks (or any team) would be fools to build around Carmelo. They should at the very least package him in a trade.

    That roster needs a complete makeover, both from a salary and player approach.

  10. csbanter - Jun 21, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Could this source be one of Chris Broussard’s infamous sources? There is no great secret to this, Melo wants no part of any triangle offense especially one in which Derek Fisher is coaching. Adidos Melo

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