Under the NBA’s maximum contract regulations, Anthony will be eligible to re-sign with the Knicks for as much as $129 million over the next five years, or he could ink a four-year deal worth up to $95.89 million with another organization.
While there will be many personal, professional and family considerations that go into Anthony’s ultimate decision, here are five reasons why Anthony should not re-sign with the Knicks.
At the age of 30, Anthony is already well beyond the point where most NBA players begin to decline.
Through extensive research conducted for his books, Stumbling on Wins and Wages of Wins, author David Berri concluded that most NBA players peak before the age of 27, with the majority of players peaking at the age of 24 and then beginning to decline after the age of 25.
Research done by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com found that the number of wins produced by first-round NBA drafts picks decline dramatically after their eighth year in the league. Anthony, who was the third overall pick by the Denver Nuggets back in 2003, is about to enter his 13th NBA season.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus also found that at least 50 percent of NBA players show improvement each year between the ages of 20 and 26, while less than four out of every 10 players show improvement between the ages of 30 and 34.
Although Anthony is coming off of his best two seasons in the league in terms of offensive production, it is highly likely that Anthony’s production will begin to decline over the next several years.
This means that the window of opportunity for Anthony to win an NBA title while still being something of a dominant force in the league will begin to rapidly close over the next three to four years.
If Anthony were 25 years old, it might be worth re-signing with the Knicks to see what kind of team Jackson could build over the next several years.
But Anthony doesn’t have the luxury of time.
If Anthony wants to be a major contributor to an NBA championship team, he must put himself in a position to win right now.
The entire New York Knicks organization took a turn for the worst the moment Cablevision and James Dolan walked through the front doors of Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks did not post a single winning season between their NBA Finals appearance in 1999 and the 2010-11 season.
Dolan essentially took over management of the Knicks in 1999, and one of his first moves was to bring in Scott Layden to serve as executive vice president and general manager of the Knicks.
While the pieces were already in place for the Knicks run at an NBA title in 1999, Layden proceeded to decimate the team for the next four years and was eventually fired by Dolan on Dec. 22, 2003.
The Knicks then transitioned from bad to worse when Dolan brought in Isiah Thomas as president of basketball operations.
By 2005, the Knicks had the second-highest payroll in the league with the second-worst record.
During Thomas’ five years with the Knicks, the team lost 250 games and had a winning percentage of just 39.02 percent.
Dolan replaced Thomas with Donnie Walsh in 2008, although it was difficult to tell exactly who was managing the Knicks' basketball operations by 2011 when Dolan stepped in and essentially dismantled all of the rebuilding Walsh had done by giving up the kitchen sink to acquire Anthony in a three-team, 13-player megadeal.
While Anthony has certainly performed well since arriving in New York, it is still quite difficult to determine whether the deal was actually a positive move for the organization when considering the team’s payroll and the draft picks the Knicks were forced to give up in order to acquire Anthony.
Walsh resigned just four months after the Anthony deal, and Dolan replaced him with Glen Grunwald.
Grunwald would serve as general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations until September 2013 when he was replaced by Steve Mills.
Less than a year later after Mills’ arrival, the Knicks then brought in Phil Jackson to serve as team president. Jackson has also taken over all basketball operations duties from Mills.
The New York Knicks front office has been a revolving door since Dolan arrived on the scene, and although Jackson was certainly a positive acquisition for the team, it doesn’t take a behavior psychologist to realize that it is probably only a matter of time before the opinionated Jackson and the outspoken Dolan begin butting heads.
The Knicks are a dysfunctional organization and have been since the early 2000s, and if Anthony were smart, he would jump from this sinking ship while he has the chance.
On June 10, 2014, the New York Knicks hired Derek Fisher as their next head coach.
Fisher has never coached an NBA game and wasn’t even Jackson’s first choice for the Knicks coaching job.
Although Fisher won five championships with Jackson in Los Angeles and would understand Jackson’s triangle offense and general basketball philosophies as well as anyone, Fisher’s ability to transition from player to head coach is still a major question mark.
Had the Knicks brought in a proven winner as head coach, or even if Jackson had taken over the head coaching responsibilities himself, it could have potentially swayed Anthony’s decision to opt out of his current contract with the Knicks.
But as the window of opportunity for Anthony to win a title continues to close, a rookie head coach was probably not the kind of progress that Anthony was looking for in New York.
As most expected, on June 15, Amar’e Stoudemire decided to exercise the option on the final year of his contract with the Knicks.
Stoudemire will earn $23.4 million during the 2014-15 season, which will be the final year of his five-year, $100 million deal with the Knicks.
Due to a series of unfortunate injuries, Stoudemire never produced in a manner even remotely close to what the Knicks had expected when they signed him to a max deal back in 2010.
Paying out $100 million to a player that started just 68 games during the past three years completely handcuffed the entire organization and will continue to do so for one more season.
So, while Jackson has already begun making some moves to clear up some cap space, the 2015-16 season will really be the first time that Jackson will possess the spending flexibility to bring in another big-time free agent to play alongside Anthony.
This means that if Anthony were to re-sign with the Knicks, he would need to accept the fact that the team is still at least a year away from making the moves necessary to content for a title.
Once again, not the brightest prospect for a 30-year-old free agent.
Choosing Definitely over Maybe
Jackson may be able to turn around the Knicks organization over the next few years.
Fisher may turn out to be a great head coach.
The Knicks may be able to bring in another big-time free agent for the 2015-16 season after they rid themselves of Stoudemire’s contract.
Dolan may stay out of Jackson’s way as he tries to rebuild the Knicks.
These are a lot of maybes for Anthony to contemplate as he decides whether to re-sign with the Knicks or take his talents elsewhere.
But, should Anthony sign with a team such as Houston, Dallas, Miami or even Chicago, which, outside of the Knicks are the four teams that appear to be front-runners to land Anthony this offseason, he will have an excellent chance to contend for an NBA title next season.
Houston, Dallas and Chicago are already playoff teams, while the Heat are coming off of their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. Adding Anthony’s 27 points and eight rebounds per game to any one of these teams could be enough to get them over the hump.
So why would Anthony chose a maybe over a definitely?
While there is, of course, no guarantee that Anthony will win an NBA title if he decides to leave New York, he will dramatically increase his chances at capturing a title over the next few years should he sign with Houston, Dallas, Chicago or Miami.
Jackson may be able to turn the Knicks into a title contender over the next few years...but that is a maybe.
Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Miami are already title contenders.
Anthony has given a lot to the Knicks organization while playing through some difficult circumstances in New York.
Now is the time for Anthony to head for the door and never look back.