Carmelo Anthony has two years left on his contract with the New York Knicks. If he were to extend his deal right now, he would be leaving a lot of money on the table. Conversely, if he plays out this season and then uses his opt-out in the summer of 2014, he can command five years and nearly $130 million from the Knicks.
Obviously, as anyone else in his shoes would, Anthony is going to play out this year and then opt out. It’s the common sense move to make, and it shouldn’t be particularly controversial. Unfortunately, because he plays for the Knicks, and because the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in him before, it has become controversial.
Earlier this week, in an interview with the New York Observer, Anthony admitted that he was looking forward to becoming a free agent. He didn’t indicate that wanted to leave or anything of that sort, he just made it clear that he wanted to experience the sort of thing that he saw LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard experiencing in years past.
The reality of this situation is, though: the Knicks can still offer Anthony $30 million-plus more than any other team in the league, including the Lakers. So that means if LA hopes to steal him away, they’ll have to dangle something besides money in front of him.
When the Lakers have brought in stars and superstars before, it’s always been from places that aren’t as impressive as Los Angeles is. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work here. New York and L.A. are both great places to live, and seeing as Anthony was born in New York, it’s probably safe to assume that he likes it just fine.
Some people have pointed out the fact that, this summer, Howard left $30-plus million on the table to ditch the Lakers for the Houston Rockets. If he could do it, why can’t Anthony? Well, because Anthony hasn’t shown any real contempt for the Knicks, whereas Howard hated everything about the Lakers. He hated Kobe Bryant. He hated Mike D’Antoni. He hated that people held him accountable for his immaturity and petulance. He made it very clear, all 2013, that he wanted to bolt. Anthony hasn’t shown any of those signs.
Finally, what exactly will the Lakers have to offer Anthony in terms of teammates? Sure they’ll have a lot of cap space in 2014, but who will they be able to get with that cap space? What sort of players do you need to put beside Anthony for him to successful? A Chauncey Billups-type of point guard? Maybe. He doesn’t play well with Amare Stoudemire. He didn’t play especially well with Allen Iverson. He couldn’t make it work with Jeremy Lin. Would the Lakers even be able to structure the team around him?
Of course, this debate might be completely moot if Anthony’s sole reason to wanting to become a free agent is just money. And based on his comments last night, it seems like that might be the case.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,’’ he told reporters on Thursday.
Well, okay then.