New York Knicks President Phil Jackson would prefer not to offer Carmelo Anthony a maximum-level contract. Jackson’s justification for that stance is that a reduced salary for Anthony would give the Knicks more cap room to chase quality free agents. Apparently on Phil’s wish-list? Former Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Pau Gasol.
The report is courtesy of ESPN’s Marc Stein. And while news of New York’s desire to lure Gasol east is noteworthy, just as important is that Jackson and company are increasingly confident that Carmelo will remain a Knick.
Sources told ESPN.com that Knicks officials, while not willing to trumpet it publicly with free agency fast approaching, are quietly confident about their odds of retaining Anthony thanks in part to the idea that new team president Phil Jackson and the high-scoring forward have “connected” to some degree.
Furthermore, one source close to the process told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that Jackson is planning to make a determined attempt to try to recruit his former Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol to replace the freshly traded Tyson Chandler alongside Anthony on the Knicks’ front line, despite the fact New York is limited to offering Gasol less than $4 million for next season.
Anthony seems destined to part ways with New York. He wants to play for a legitimate contender and the Knicks have a long, long way to go to resume the winning ways of the organization’s history. They should have enough cap-room to bring a maximum contract into the fold after next season, but actually doing so remains a hope instead of a guarantee. That probably won’t be enough for Carmelo when it’s all said and done.
Adding Gasol seems an equally dubious proposition. Though the two-time champion and four-time All-Star turns 34 years-old next week and is clearly on the downside of his career, he will surely command more on the open market than the $4 million salary New York could offer him. Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher obviously seek a post-presence to help lead an offense that will undoubtedly be influenced by the Triangle. The chances that Gasol will end up filling that void for the Knicks, though, seem very slim.
Personally, we’d prefer to see Pau team up with Dirk Nowitzki for the Dallas Mavericks. All quality veterans – Gasol, Anthony, and more – deserve to play for winners, and Dallas will surely be a better team than New York next season. In fact, at this point it seems more likely that an Anthony-Gasol pairing could wind up playing for the Mavericks than Knicks.
Jackson is right to be aggressive, though. New York City is still one of the league’s top free agent draws, and the shine of his 13 championship rings gives the Knicks clout they’ve lacked since the 1990s. If those attributes, among others, aren’t enough for New York to ultimately ink Anthony, Gasol, and players of similar caliber, it will surely give them pause in turning the Knicks down.
Would Anthony and Gasol make a good tandem?
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