What kind of power, you ask? All of it.
There isn't a New York Knicks player in recent memory who has had the kind of absolute control he has. Players in general are catered to now more than ever, so perhaps that much is irrelevant. But it doesn't render the influence he currently has any less impressive.
"I'm not going nowhere," the potential free-agent-to-be said of his future in New York, according to Newsday's Al Iannazzone.
Why would he? Reasons in support of him leaving do exist, and only time will tell if they go away. Right now, though, he has more reasons to stay because the Knicks have, within reason and to the best of their ability, given him everything he's wanted.
While discussing 'Melo's most recent comments, CBS Sports' always-entertaining Matt Moore touched upon the unconditional support New York has thrown his way:
The Knicks have completely built their organization around him. Mike D'Antoni didn't maximize his talents? Gone. Free agents he wanted? Signed. Executives added with relationships to him and his agency? Hired. The Knicks are MeloWorld, brought to you by CAA these days. He plays in the world's grandest city for one of the most iconic sports teams on the planet, makes the most money he can by re-signing and his wife likes it there.
Everything Moore points out isn't even the half of it. The Knicks began pampering 'Melo long before he ever came to New York, and there are no indications they're going to stop now. Or ever.
Anthony's will has been done. Over and over again.
He wanted to come to New York so the Knicks made it happen. And it wasn't cheap. They mortgaged their entire future, shipping out key components like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton. I'd lament the loss of the first-round selections too, but you should know by now the Knicks value draft picks like Lil Wayne sees the need to purchase NBA playoff tickets—he doesn't, and they don't.
Fear presumably forced the James Dolan-owned Knicks to cave on an asking price they didn't want to meet. And that was just the beginning.
Following another first-round exit and a league-wide lockout in 2011, the Knicks brought in Tyson Chandler to complement Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. The hope was that this triumvirate would make the Knicks bona fide contenders.
They were the frontline nobody had. Not even the Miami Heat.
Forty-two games into a 66-game season, then-head coach Mike D'Antoni "resigned" amidst rumors that he wanted Anthony traded as the result of a growing rift between the two. Reports also intimated that 'Melo himself requested a trade because of D'Antoni and New York's 18-24 record at the time.
We'll never know what really happened there. (Flies that inhabited the Madison Square Garden walls or Magic Mike's apple pies, feel free to contact me with any inside information.) All we know for sure is that D'Antoni left, Mike Woodson was promoted (then retained), 'Melo stayed and rumors of his discontent ceased.
New York finished the 2011-12 season on an 18-6 burst to sneak into the playoffs, where it met the Heat and got clobbered in five games. With the D'Antoni situation out of sight and mind, attentions turned to Jeremy Lin.
Previously, a story was leaked positing that it was Anthony who suggested D'Antoni play Lin in the first place. Once summer hit and the Knicks were afforded the right to match any contract Linsanity received, 'Melo called his offer from the Rockets "ridiculous."
Lin's contract was never matched because, let's face the music, it was ridiculous. Like clockwork, though, it eventually all came back to Anthony. ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown reported that a source close to the team has Anthony partly responsible for running Lin out of town.
True? Not true? I'm going with the latter, but the fact that the theory was entertained says a whole lot.
If it was indeed Anthony who spearheaded Lin's exit, it worked out quite well for him. 'Melo had a career year in 2012-13 and won the scoring title. The Knicks won their division and made it out of the first round. All wasn't right, but it felt pretty damn good.
Then the Brooklyn Nets went and pulled off a blockbuster trade this offseason, landing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. With the Chicago Bulls getting Derrick Rose back, the Indiana Pacers assembling a bench—stealing Chris Copeland in the process—and the Heat still being the Heat, 'Melo began to get antsy.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Anthony wanted the Knicks to get another scorer or make a play for Rajon Rondo. They got him Andrea Bargnani instead, a move 'Melo later called a "steal."
It doesn't take a genius to see this roster, right down to the coaching staff, was assembled with Anthony in mind. Truth be told, I'm scared to think what would've happened to Iman Shumpert by now if 'Melo didn't figure him for a future star.
For better or worse, this team has 'Melo's stamp of approval, and the Knicks haven't been shy about it.
Certain commitments aren't as direct as others. Take New York's salary structure for instance.
The Knicks don't have cap space in 2014. Not unless 'Melo, Stoudemire and Bargs all terminate the last year of their deals. Anthony is expected to opt out of his pact, but STAT and Bargs are more likely to want to find themselves trapped in each other's bodies than walk away from the combined $34.9 million they're owed.
Financial flexibility awaits in 2015, though. At present, the Knicks have no guaranteed contracts on the books. Even if they re-sign 'Melo to a five-year deal worth roughly $129 million next summer and keep Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr., they'll have money to burn. That's no coincidence.
It's not by chance that Felton and J.R. Smith each have player options on their modestly priced contracts that year. Smith ($6.4 million) and Felton ($3.9 million) could explore free agency in search of more money. If they opt in, their expiring contracts could easily be dumped.
This was all by design, right down to the Bargnani trade.
Think of it as a contingency plan. Next season could go askew (it won't; the Knicks are underrated). If it does, the Knicks can sell 'Melo on a quick and easy rebuild in 2015, a situation in which he could handpick the roster. According to Hoopsworld.com, they've apparently already told him that, and it's bound to be fresh in his mind.
Still fresh in our minds is an even smaller, yet equally important detail: Creative Artists Agency has deep-rooted business ties to the organization.
Not only does CAA represent 'Melo, they represent his buddy J.R. Smith. As of May 2012, they also represent Woodson. And executive Mark Warkentien, too. He used to work for the Denver Nuggets, and the Knicks hired him in 2011 when they were still in hot pursuit of Anthony.
That's no coinkydink either.
Everything about the Knicks is Anthony's for the taking. They were assembled for 'Melo, approved by 'Melo and until further notice, the team will plan their future around, you guessed it, 'Melo.
Cue the sappy love song. No seriously, do it. I linked to it above.
New York has backup plans in place to keep 'Melo, not replace him. Should one of the Knicks' preferred methods of persuasion prove faulty, they'll employ other forms of seduction. But were they to exhaust every last Anthony-inspired option at their disposal, they'd be screwed. Not forever, but for awhile.
This franchise is built to accommodate almost anything Anthony needs. They're instructed to do whatever he wants (if they can). Were he to say "jump," they would ask "how high?" Then they would jump. And then they would serve him dinner while fanning him with a comically sized leaf.
That's how much Anthony means to the Knicks. While I doubt he asked for this kind of control, he has it. The Knicks may have just forked it over to him of their own free will. They have nowhere to go if he himself goes. No top-10 superstar on whom to sell prospective free agents; no offensive juggernaut to carry them to the playoffs.
"I actually see this team being better than last year,'' Anthony said, via Iannazzone. "That's just my opinion, that's the way that we feel. And if we feel that way as a unit, then there's nothing that can come between us.''
Actually, there's one thing that can come between the Knicks and winning—'Melo. New York's immediate fate rest in his hands. Decisions have been made assuming that he isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Lucky for the Knicks, then, that Anthony (seemingly) wants to stay put. He appears to believe in what they're doing, what they're building. That, and he may have grown accustomed to sporting a crown, holding a scepter and sitting atop his current throne.
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