Carmelo Anthony Willing to Take Pay Cut to Lure Free Agents to New York Knicks

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2014

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Carmelo Anthony may not be going anywhere this summer. 

It depends on what the front office of the New York Knicks does in terms of establishing a long-term plan, though, which might not inspire too much hope in the hearts of the team's faithful fans. 

During an interview in New Orleans with Marc Berman of the New York Post, 'Melo revealed that it's championships, not money, that will determine where he plays in the foreseeable future. The small forward can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2013-14 season, and his ultimate decision is still unknown. 

That said, it sounds like he wants to stay in the Big Apple. As Berman writes, "If he likes what he hears, he’s confident he will remain a Knick for a long while."

"Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it," Anthony said during the interview, referring to his willingness to take less than a max contract. "I told people all the time, always say, if it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying: 'Take my money and let’s build something strong over here.'"

The high-scoring forward, who can either A) sign a five-year, $129 million deal with the Knicks, B) sign a four-year, $96 million deal with another team or C) take a pay cut regardless of location, continued, saying: 

As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me. If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete at that level.

The intent here is wonderful, but it also puts pressure on the Knicks. 

Can they actually prove to 'Melo that they're building something positive by the time he has the opportunity to leave? Can they show him that they'll be competing at a championship level before he's too far past his prime? 

That's where doubt starts creeping back into the equation. 

Feb 9, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony warms up prior to the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It's what led Jim Boeheim, his former coach at Syracuse, to suggest, while on Jim Rome on Showtime, that Anthony should go elsewhere if he's looking for championships, although he did so in rather tacit fashion. It's what led ESPN New York Ian O'Connor to write, "But the Knicks are broken and in need of an overhaul. If Melo wants his parade, chances are some other team will have to give it to him."

If this season, one that has New York reeling at the All-Star break with a 20-32 record, is any indication, it's not likely that James Dolan can successfully build a realistic plan that will keep Anthony in town. Dolan's history, as well as the lack of cap space in the immediate future and the dearth of draft picks, point in the same direction. 

Anthony is leaving the door open, but that doesn't mean the Knicks can avoid slamming it shut.