Even the almighty Phil Jackson is having trouble convincing Carmelo Anthony to opt in to the year left on his current deal, and so it appears the superstar will test free agency, something that has fans of the New York Knicks in full-swing panic mode.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, "Barring a dramatic change of heart, Anthony will opt out of his contract...and become an unrestricted free agent."
Now, this should come as no surprise, as Anthony made it clear during the season that he would likely opt out. Still, even with the NBA Finals still going on, rumors about Anthony's potential new team are already spreading, and it is scaring Knicks fans.
Earlier this week Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN reported that the Miami Heat have had internal discussions about turning their Big Three into the Fantastic Four with the addition of Melo. On Saturday, Yahoo! Sports' Adam Wojnarowski wrote that Anthony was strongly considering leaving the Knicks and that the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls were heavy favorites to land the scoring machine.
Wojnarowski's report had this to say:
Anthony is leaning toward leaving in pursuit of immediate championship contention, and awaits the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign him in free agency.
His heart is in New York, but he wants a chance to win now.
And so, chaos has ensued in the minds of Knicks fans. If Anthony leaves, this team will undergo a full rebuilding process. With no draft picks, no financial flexibility and few trade assets, it will be a long time before this team can be a legitimate championship contender.
Personally, I understand if Anthony wants to leave. The Knicks, even if they are more talented than the 37 games they won this season, are far from a trip to the NBA Finals in 2015, and again, they are financially strapped and have no picks. Anthony carried this team all year, and it got him no where. At age 30, he is running out of time to win a championship.
But please Melo, please stay! This team will be lost without you. So, as a Knicks fan myself, I implore you to consider what I am about to say. It is good for you, good for the Knicks and good for myself and all Knicks fans alike.
I know president Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and new head coach Derek Fisher, all people with far more influence than me, have all already said this, but opt-in for another year. Take that $23.3 million paycheck and enjoy another year playing in the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden. Get to know Phil and Fisher. Try on all 18 of their rings and realize what it would be like to bring just one of those to New York.
Do you have any idea what that would mean to this city? The fans? What it would do for your legacy?
You would be immortalized Mr. Anthony.
Of course, a vivid imagination does not equal results. The Knicks would have to use that year to improve, both by developing the current roster and by putting themselves in a position to add another star or two come next year's free agency. Jackson and Fisher have given you, players and fans every reason to believe that will happen.
Just give them that chance. You would still be an unrestricted free agent at 31, free to make what would be a far more informed decision about the Knicks. Besides Melo, by leaving New York this year you would be limiting your potential options.
First off, why are you even considering the Rockets? You, James Harden and Dwight Howard all together on one team are all but guaranteed to put on a season-long clinic of how to not pass a basketball. Regardless of the talent on the court, you really think that is a combination that is going to win a championship? Come on now.
Granted, Chicago is interesting. The whole team plays together. They play tough. They have proven that they are afraid of no one. All they are missing is a scorer. That is where they want you to come in. They want you so badly they will feed you line after line of how perfectly fine Derrick Rose is following two seasons lost to injury.
Now Rose may very well be perfectly fine, but wouldn't you rather see that for yourself? By sticking it out in New York for another season you can see if the dynamic point guard is healthy and playing up to his accustomed ability. If he is, no one would blame you for wanting to team up with a player like that two years from now. It is just not in your best interest to lock yourself into playing with a guy who has not played a full season since the 2010-2011 campaign.
Speaking of "players like that," what about your buddy LeBron James, the best player on the planet? He is facing the same choice as you. Should he opt-in or elect to become a free agent?
Pass this along to him, because if you both stay with your respective teams for another season, the two of you could practically hand pick where you want to play together next season, oppose to having yourselves and several other players sacrificing millions of dollars to play in Miami next year. You would be an all-time legend if you got LeBron to come to New York. If you did not like the direction the Knicks were going in, you could join him in South Beach. If you both wanted, you could start your lives anew together with another team in another city.
But please, please, please stay. Deep down, you know you want to. You know that New York City, the place you grew up, is where you want to win. A championship here would mean so much more, to you and the city. You can be the man and end the drought.
I know the Knicks have made it tough on you but look around. Things are changing in this organization. You have men with championship pedigrees running the show now. Hang around and see what they have to say. For just one more year, let the Knicks try and win you over.
If they fail to impress you, leave in 2015. Not a single soul with a lick of common sense or basketball knowledge would blame you.
But please, just sleep on it for another year.
Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Knicks basketball and the NBA.