On Monday, Carmelo Anthony opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. Teams cannot conduct official recruiting business until the clock turns midnight on July 1st, but that’s not stopping them from getting a head start. According to reports, there’s a long list of teams expected to meet with ‘Melo next week.
Carmelo Anthony has yet to publicly reveal the process by which he plans to entertain other teams in free agency now that he has opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks, but the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to him starting July 1, according to sources close to the situation.
Teams can’t formally contact free agents until 12:01 a.m. ET July 1, but sources told ESPN.com that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are two more teams that could join the race for Anthony, depending on how things play out before, during and after Thursday’s NBA draft.
The Bulls and Rockets are no surprise as they’ve been linked to ‘Melo for several weeks now. Dirk Nowitzki has expressed interest in pairing with ‘Melo, and the Mavs have cap space. The Lakers have cap room to offer ‘Melo the max of four years, $96 million but he would be teaming up with aging superstars in both Dallas and Los Angeles.
The Heat will be a very interesting choice should they set up a meeting with ‘Melo. The potential of a Big Four will require a lot of financial maneuvering from Miami, but seeing as how LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took pay cuts four summers ago to play together, it’s not out of the question. The recent opt-out by LeBron makes this more of a reality, especially if both Bosh and Wade also opt out to renegotiate a smaller deal to accomodate ‘Melo.
The Atlanta Hawks are a surprising entry. General manager Danny Ferry has put together a solid team built around Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Hoford, and they’re armed with flexibility moving forward. Plus, the Hawks — like the Heat — play in the Eastern Conference, a much easier path to reach the NBA Finals.
For the Knicks, they may not be able to offer the opportunity to win now to ‘Melo, but if you watch this VICE Sports interview recorded earlier this month, ‘Melo seems to be also emphasizing his family and being in a city he wants to be long-term as a priorities:
If Knicks fans are looking for any signs of encouragement in this recruiting race for ‘Melo, this interview is it.
The Knicks will have to appeal to Melo’s off-the-court factors in his decision and not what they can offer on the hardwood, which isn’t much. It’s not the most enticing pitch, but it’s all they’ve got at the moment.
Let the fun begin next week.
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