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Report: Carmelo Anthony could take less than the max to stay with Knicks

Jul 5, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

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Carmelo Anthony has reportedly bought in to Phil Jackson’s vision for turning the Knicks into a contender, and that, along with the fact that New York is willing to offer up a max contract if Anthony were to choose to re-sign, would seem to be a strong indicator that the Knicks remain the favorites to retain Anthony’s services.

But just because the team offered a five-year max deal worth $129 million, that doesn’t mean that Anthony has to take it.

New York is going to be strapped from a cap perspective this summer anyway, but a max deal wouldn’t provide the help Jackson would be looking for moving forward, when the summer of 2015 will have more impact players available, and the Knicks will have more money to spend.

For that reason, Anthony could take the max this year when there is likely to be little help on the way, but agree to a lesser salary in the future that could give the team additional room to upgrade the roster.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Knicks president Phil Jackson told Anthony during Thursday night’s meeting in Los Angeles he can have the team’s maximum 5-year, $129 million contract if he wishes. But The Post has learned there’s a distinct possibility Anthony will still decide to take a little less than the max.

One scenario would be Anthony starting at the max $22.4 million, but taking a 7.5 percent pay reduction in Year 2, as allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. That reduced salary for the 2015-16 season would give the Knicks a little more cap space next summer.

Jackson has said he prefers for Anthony to take less than the max to give him more salary-cap flexibility in 2015 and 2016 to sign free agents.

This seems like a viable option for both sides.

Anthony would get paid as he should in the upcoming season, which might be better than last but still figures to be another down year in terms of the Knicks being very far away from their stated goal of championship contention. Then, moving forward, he could take a relatively small discount that would allow for some increased cap flexibility, while painting Anthony as the good guy for leaving money on the table to try to help his team win.

If Anthony does indeed believe in Jackson’s long-term plan for the franchise, this would appear to be the best way for him to show it.

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