Wait a minute...
For the first time of his illustrious, albeit ringless, NBA career, Anthony is prepping himself for life without a playoff berth, an unfamiliar reality the Knicks were tactless enough to create for him at the most inopportune time.
Anthony will hit free agency this summer, at which point he could remain in New York or enlist with a team closer to contending. Almost needless to say, he has some self-reflection to do.
In addition to purchasing a fantastically comfortable sofa on which he will sit and watch fellow NBA superstars play for a championship without him, he must also figure out what team will have the honor of padding his bank account this summer.
Long considered a proponent of the glitz and glam big-market clubs offer, Anthony's choices are limited. Outside interest, however, is not.
The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets are all expected to enter the Anthony-driven fray this summer, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola. Two of those teams—Chicago and Houston—are already contending or on the brink of contention. The Lakers, while awful, have cap space and an endlessly defiant Kobe Bryant on their side.
Leaving the Knicks doesn't figure to be easy. Though they laid a collective egg this season, they can offer Anthony one year and $30-plus million more than any other team.
Still, that hasn't stopped Anthony from publicly flip-flopping. He has been an emotional roller coaster the entire year, and as Iannazzone points out, his dilemma shows on his face and in his words:
It would be difficult for Anthony to turn down a full max deal. He forced a trade to the Knicks three years ago and wants to lead the Knicks to their first championship since 1973.
But amid the Knicks' struggles, Anthony seemed to waver about his commitment to returning. Anthony said that money doesn't matter as much as playing for a title contender. The Knicks aren't so constituted and may not be next season, depending on what team president Phil Jackson does with the roster.
If winning is all that matters to Anthony, he'll leave. It's that simple. There are plenty of teams in better situations than the Knicks. New York doesn't have a first-round pick this year or in 2016 and won't have cap space until the summer of 2015, when Anthony will be 31.
But winning isn't everything. Money and loyalty are huge factors in every free-agency decision, and Anthony's circumstances are no different.
"I want to retire in New York, I mean let's be quite frank," he told TNT in October. "I think a lot of people jumped the gun when I said I wanted to be a free agent."
Strapped for cash and with no lottery pick or playoff berth to show for a season accursed with losing and ambiguity, the Knicks are left hoping Anthony stays true to his word eight months later.
*Salary information via ShamSports.
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