Why Carmelo Anthony Must Consider Leaving the NY Knicks After 2013-14

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Why Carmelo Anthony Must Consider Leaving the NY Knicks After 2013-14
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sportsss
Would Carmelo Anthony abandon the New York Knicks' ship in 2014?

Carmelo Anthony would be crazy to exercise his 2014-15 early termination option (ETO) and bolt from the New York Knicks, leaving $24.4 million on the table. Right?

Not necessarily.

Anthony and his agent, Leon Rose, must consider their options following what the odds (and Carmelo himself) say will be another postseason letdown in 2013-14.

According to a source, Anthony has told a confidant he is concerned management will stand pat this offseason and said he believes the team needs to add a bona fide secondary scorer for the Knicks to take the next step and win a championship. (via Marc Berman, NY Post)

What if it’s worse, like a First-Round exit?

From his ETO perch after next season, Anthony will only see more of the same ahead in 2014-15.

What happens next depends on Anthony’s patience and what he truly wants. Any professional, especially at this level, is going to explore his options.

Will he cash in all his chips at “home” through a possibly less-lucrative second contract and some media and fan hassling along the way—New York Knicks championship or bust?

What are the chances Carmelo Anthony will exercise his ETO in 2014?

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Or, will he make the personal, financial and reputational sacrifice in search of a ring elsewhere if he doesn’t think the organization has the will or ability to lay it all on the line through the next five or six years?

That first option can be pretty selfless. Signing for less in 2015-16 (at least upfront) could be mutually beneficial, especially for his reputation as a true New York player and the Knicks' ability to lure other great players. Informally, most of us all think and hope this is the way it will go down.

Would you blame a man for selecting option No. 2, if he thinks it’s his only real shot at a title?

Will the Knicks be able to draw contending free agent talent to New York in 2015-16 or shortly after?

What if a Big Three-type opportunity presents itself to Carmelo somewhere else?

Maybe there will be another team out there he thinks has a better chance to win it all in the near future—with him in the lineup.

Maybe Anthony will wind up playing with Chris Paul, under Doc Rivers on the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul and Blake Griffin have been having issues.

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Hey, Melo. How about playing in L.A.?

Those scenarios might be more appealing to Anthony than patiently wading through two more seasons with the same, not-good-enough, payroll-straddled roster and hoping James Dolan’s pockets will be deep enough to not only dump more money on a so-far fruitless Anthony in a new contract, but also sign a championship-caliber crew around him.

At the age of 30, could he get a longer and richer contract somewhere else, evening out his 2014-15 due and any other upfront money New York might offer? It’s possible.

Does Anthony want to be paid max money and that’s all that matters?

It doesn’t seem that way exactly. He wants a ring.

By the end of 2013-14, Carmelo will have already cashed more than $135 million in NBA checks. This does not include endorsements and other income streams, none of which are really New York City-dependent, as itemized by the Wall Street Journal.

Anthony's current relationships include Nike’s Jordan Brand, PowerCoco sports drink and the supplement Isotonix Champion Blend Plus. Anthony just agreed to terms on a deal with Degree deodorant, and he recently became a stakeholder in Haute Time, a luxury publishing company covering timepieces. Anthony says he is no longer interested in strict endorsement deals; he prefers partnerships that offer a percentage of ownership.

Let’s just say Carmelo Anthony is not going to be one of those mega-paid athletes that goes broke any time soon.

He’s already national, can take his ware hocking to other big markets (L.A., Miami, Dallas, Chicago) and nothing will boost his bottom line and rep more than a title...if there isn't one to have in New York.

Anthony may not have the all-consuming championship determination of a Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but he does talk about winning a title all the time—ad-nauseum, in fact.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Hey, Melo. How about playing in L.A.?

The NBA landscape changes fast. Players move around. Payrolls will rise and dip—some will become capped and others will be freed up of burdensome contracts.

In 2014, the $15 million-plus contracts of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay and Dirk Nowitzki come off the books. Other teams are already set to be under the cap. And surely there’ll be some transacting over the next 12 months moving money around.

There will be room out there for Anthony.

More money, a longer contract and a better shot at a ring.

These will be dangled in front of Anthony at the close of 2013-14.

But the Knicks will dangle those, too. Anthony has good reason to stick it out two more challenging years.

After giving up the farm to get him in the first place, the Knicks will have a second chance to build a championship-caliber team around Anthony, and they will.

And, who knows, their first chance isn't over yet.

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