5 Reasons Carmelo Anthony Should Stay with the New York Knicks
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony stated prior to the season that he intends to exercise the opt-out clause of his contract and become a free agent this summer. The Knicks' disappointing season may cause Anthony to consider signing elsewhere, though there are plenty of reasons why New York remains his ideal destination.
Anthony turns 30 in May. His next contract will be his final maximum-salary contract. It will extend through the remainder of his prime and represents his last shot at leading a team to a championship.
Carmelo will weigh many factors this summer when deciding where to sign including financial implications, lifestyle, his family's interests, potential teammates and which team would give him the best shot at winning that elusive ring.
The Knicks have given every indication that they intend to re-sign Anthony. His decision will have a tremendous impact on his legacy and the future of the franchise.
Anthony May Never Be Loved If He Leaves
Carmelo Anthony will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and be remembered as one of the greatest scorers of his generation. Whether he maintains an emotional bond with a franchise and its fans after he retires remains to be seen.
Anthony had seven-and-a-half spectacular seasons with the Denver Nuggets, though the city is unlikely to embrace him again after he forced his way out of town. After this year, he will have played three-and-a-half seasons in New York and there is a good chance he will only have one playoff series victory to show for it. If he leaves, New York fans will be bitter and he will sever all ties to the organization.
If 'Melo remains a Knick for another five seasons, his No. 7 will rise to the rafters of Madison Square Garden. He will always be associated with the franchise and revered by its fans, even if he does not deliver a championship.
If he signs elsewhere, it will mark his third team in his prime years. Unless he wins a championship at his next stop, that city is unlikely to adopt him as one of its own. He would be remembered by many, but celebrated by few.
The Knicks Will Have Plenty of Salary Cap Space in 2015
The Knicks will be over the salary cap next season, but they should have plenty of money to spend in the summer of 2015 when Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire’s contracts come off the books. New York currently does not have any guaranteed salary committed for the 2015-16 season.
The 2015 free-agent class could include Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Paul Millsap. One or two of those high-impact players could join Anthony to form a formidable nucleus in New York.
Of course, Carmelo would have to place his faith in the Knicks’ ability to lure talent to New York. It is quite possible that the Knicks will strike out in the summer of 2015 and fail to land any of the players mentioned above. However, it has to be encouraging for Anthony that there is a plan in place and the Knicks will have the means to make significant improvements in the near future.
Carmelo May Not Have a Suitable Alternative
There are very few attractive alternatives for Anthony to re-singing with the Knicks. The Brooklyn native forced the Denver Nuggets to trade him to New York in part because of his desire to play in a big market. A metropolis like New York presents greater endorsement opportunities for 'Melo and potential acting jobs for his wife La La.
It is difficult to imagine Anthony signing with one of the franchises that are expected to be flush with cash this summer in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte or Cleveland. Big-market teams such as the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat (assuming they retain LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade) will not have the cap space to sign him.
The Los Angeles Lakers will have money to spend and are reportedly interested in Carmelo, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. While L.A. may be an attractive destination for the Anthonys, that organization has been in shambles for the past couple of seasons and it will be difficult for them to build a contender with so much money committed to a breaking down Kobe Bryant.
The Chicago Bulls may be the most intriguing landing spot for Anthony. The Bulls could create enough cap space to sign 'Melo to a maximum-salary deal and would be instant contenders with 'Melo, Joakim Noah and a healthy Derrick Rose. The problem is that Chicago would have to use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer in order to free up the cap space necessary, and management has been reluctant to pay the inevitable luxury tax.
The Knicks Can Offer Anthony the Most Money
Carmelo Anthony will be 30 years old when he signs his next contract. It will be the last maximum-salary deal of his career and he will want to make the most of it.
The Knicks own Anthony’s “Bird Rights,” which will enable them to offer him a five-year 129.1 million contract. Every other team will be restricted to a maximum deal of $95.9 over four years. That is a $33.2 million difference before considering the added endorsement value of being a star in New York City.
Basketball fans will be quick to compare Anthony to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who all took less money to play for a contender in Miami. It is not an apt comparison.
Miami’s “Big Three” each accepted about $15 million less than the maximum they could have made, though that number shrinks significantly when you consider that Florida does not have a state income tax. Plus, all three of those players were younger than Anthony is now and faced the prospect of another huge payday.
Perhaps most importantly, James, Wade and Bosh sacrificed that money to play with two close friends and future Hall of Famers in the prime of their careers and the near certainty that they would be competing for a championship for years to come. Unless James opts out of his contract this summer and decides to team up with 'Melo somewhere, 'Melo will not have a similar opportunity.
There Is Nothing Like Winning a Championship in New York
Nothing would top winning a championship in New York for Anthony. And to those who dismiss that notion as elitist, New York snobbery, I need only point to Jeremy Lin.
Lin’s memorable run would have amounted to nothing more than a couple of SportsCenter highlights if he had played for Milwaukee or Cleveland. Only the big stages of New York or Los Angeles could have produced the international sensation known as “Linsanity.”
Technology is connecting the world in new and interesting ways, though television, Twitter and Facebook cannot fully capture the energy that emanates from the cultural and financial epicenter known as New York City. It is not a coincidence that the NBA’s biggest stars often produce their most outstanding performances in Madison Square Garden.
Basketball has always been the city game and the Knicks have an intelligent, vast and rabid fanbase that is starving for a championship after a 40-year drought. No other city could match the adulation that would be heaped upon Anthony if he were to bring a championship to New York.
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