"What will Melo do?" is not the only question the New York Knicks must ask themselves when contemplating free agency this offseason. Besides Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' new free agents Kenyon Martin, Cole Aldrich and Toure' Murry aren't rushing to wash and press their New York jerseys either.
Although fans' pipe dreams know no bounds, the realistic possibilities are far from endless. For one matter, there are strains on the team's purse strings. As ESPN New York's Ian Begley explains:
The Knicks currently have the taxpayer’s mini mid-level (starting at $3.3 million). If Anthony signs with another team, they are likely to have the full midlevel exception (starting at $5 million). They will also be able to offer veteran’s minimum deals. So in the best-case scenario, the Knicks will have $5 million to offer free agents this summer. This can be split among multiple players.
Even if Melo stays in New York and takes a huge pay cut, the budget wouldn't loosen up until after next season ends—which complicates matters if the Knicks try to land a big-ticket free agent now who'd sneer at $3.3 million.
Although nearly everything about Anthony's future is foggy, he has made it clear that money is not his main motivator. He wants to suit up in whatever city will give him a real shot at the championship, right away, and be a happy home for the Anthony family that is already settled in New York. (And if LeBron James is on that team, that would be awful nice too.)
Which team has the best chance of uniting Anthony and LeBron? Which team gives Melo the best chance to win a championship in 2015? Which squad is he best suited for? Who wants him most? Who needs him most?
What city will La La and the gang happily move to? Which of the Melo suitors can actually afford him, even at a discounted price? With or without Melo, what assets do the Knicks have, what skills do they still need, and who can they afford?
Based upon the answers to all those knotty questions, here are 10 free-agency possibilities for Knicks, ranked from least realistic to most likely.