The New York Knicks are suffering through one of their most disappointing seasons in a few years, and their future looks even more tenuous. Carmelo Anthony isn’t even a free agent yet, but the rumors have already started about what his decision will be this summer when he can opt-out of the final year of his Knicks deal, which would pay him $23 million, to look for a longer-term deal in free agency. Now comes word from an unnamed former teammate that ‘Melo is leaving the Knicks despite their ability to add $30 million and an extra year on his deal.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports:
Carmelo Anthony’s former teammate needed just a few seconds to ponder the question and deliver a definitive answer.
“I think he’s leaving. I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.”
Anthony’s former teammate, who requested anonymity, echoed the thoughts of several people close to Anthony who believe he’s ready to leave.
The impetus to leave would have to fall on that desire since under the collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer ‘Melo an additional $30 million, and a fifth year on his deal, which would pay him through his 34th birthday.
Marc Berman at the New York Post adds that Anthony’s fear of turning into a pariah in New York, similar to Stephon Marbury, could sway his decision:
There are valid reasons why Anthony might decide 2014 will be his last calendar year as a Knick, with the club crashing and burning.
On Christmas, Stephon Marbury sat four rows behind the Knicks’ bench â€” his first visit to the Garden in three years.
Anthony sat on the bench in a brown suit, missing his first game with a sprained left ankle. Marbury and Anthony are products of Brooklyn â€” Coney Island and Red Hook, respectively. Marbury became such a pariah among Knicks fans the Garden didn’t have the heart last week to put him on the scoreboard for a “once-aâ€“Knick-always-a-Knick” introduction.
“He saw Marbury get heckled by some fans on Christmas,” one source told The Post. “He doesn’t want to be the next Marbury. He’s very sensitive.”
As for that sensitivity, Berman brings up Melo’s response on Twitter earlier this week, where he responded to a fan critical of his time in New York, by writing, “I didn’t ask for your glazed donut face ass to root for me anyway!!!!”
The Tweet has since been taken down, but it shows how frustrated Anthony has become in a year when the Knicks were supposed to again compete in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but have sunk to a 9-21 start following an injury to Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith‘s inability to get back on track after offseason knee surgery.
Anthony is returning to the lineup after an ankle sprain kept him out of their last three games, and his return couldn’t come at a better time for a Knicks team set to embark on the agonizing Texas Triangle road trip, facing off against first San Antonio tonight and then Houston and Dallas over the next three nights. But it’s Anthony’s future that has many wondering, and if the Knicks continue to slide, that future might not involve the Big Apple.
Berman goes on to add that should ‘Melo leave that additional $30 million on the table by opting out of his final year in New York and not re-signing with the Knicks, he’d still like to be in a big market because of the off-the-court opportunities â€” something he’s taken full advantage of while in New York:
Anthony wants to play for a winner, but desperately wants to play in a big market because of his business ventures â€” his Jordan Brand sneaker line, his PowerCoco energy drink, his watch deal.
That is why New York, Los Angeles, where he has a home, and even Chicago are on his short list, according to a source. The source said the Clippers â€” with buddy Chris Paul â€” are more attractive than the Lakers, though the purple-and-gold have cap space and the Clips don’t.
The Lakers also have coach Mike D’Antoni, for now. It’s hard to imagine Anthony wanting to play for him again, not after the battle they went through in New York. Of course, there is no guarantee D’Antoni will be around.
The Clippers would need to do a sign-and-trade to net Anthony, likely with Blake Griffin. The Knicks only would appease Anthony if a threat existed of losing him for nothing to a team with cap space.
The Bulls would intrigue Anthony, too, because he has a lot of respect for coach Tom Thibodeau, according to a source.
So, Chicago and LA appear to be the most likely, with the Clippers having an advantage over the Lakers since D’Antoni and ‘Melo rubbed each other the wrong way when the Italian coach helmed the Knicks.
But its the Knicks who remain the front-runners, according to Berman, especially should they nab Kevin Love in the summer of 2015 when he can opt out of his deal in Minnesota. Anthony’s future in New York is the real reason former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald was replaced by Steve Mills in a shocking move right before the season started: he’s got a better relationship with ‘Melo.
But Anthony’s preference is to remain with the Knicks if he sees a solid plan in place â€” one that could include Kevin Love in 2015. It was one of the chief reasons president Steve Mills was hired and Glen Grunwald fired. Owner James Dolan and his lieutenants thought Mills could convince Anthony of their future plan better than Grunwald, who didn’t have a relationship with Anthony.
Though Mills hasn’t spoken to the media since the regular season began, he often chats with Anthony at practice. Mills also is close to power broker William Wesley, the CAA advisor who has Anthony’s ear. But it appears Mills has gotten positive feedback on Anthony’s intentions.
At 9-and-21 this season, the Knicks sport the second-worst record in the “LEastern” Conference, with only the abysmal Bucks worse. But they’re only six games back of the Raptors in the dreadful Atlantic Division, so the playoffs could still be on the horizon. If the season ended today, and the Knicks missed out on postseason action â€” regardless of Anthony’s relationship with Mills, or the lucrative endorsement opportunities in New York â€” he could bounce to Chi-Town or LA.
It’s something to keep in mind, but since we see a lot of this sort of response when we write about Anthony’s future contract decision, it’s worth asking: does Anthony deserve max money, and can he be the best player on a championship-winning team? It appears the major market executives â€” specifically those in New York â€” feel his scoring services are worth max money, but will it cost the Knicks their ability to be competitive, and will New York fans lump him into the same category as Stephon Marbury should he choose to leave this summer in free agency after another losing season in New York?
So many questions, and we just now started 2014, but this year could be the most important yet in understanding Carmelo Anthony’s legacy when his career reaches its conclusion.
What will Carmelo Anthony do this offseason?
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