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Perhaps Carmelo Anthony never intended to leave the Big Apple. Maybe free agency was merely a part of the NBA lifestyle he wanted to experience at some point during his prime.
After all, his wife, La La Anthony, said back in January, “I definitely think he will stay. I know that he wants to stay and I support him wherever he wants to go,” per the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte.
Remember, she said that before legendary coach Phil Jackson came to town as New York Knicks team president.
Even down to the very end, reports suggested that Anthony mulled leaving NY. USA Today’s Sam Amick wrote, “A person with knowledge of Anthony’s situation confirmed reports that he still is considering the Chicago Bulls, though it’s unclear where the Bulls, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers are in the lead in these one-man sweepstakes.”
The Rockets and Dallas Mavericks were also courting Melo, but fell out of the running without ever being seen as legitimate landing spots.
Heading to the Windy City obviously had great appeal from a winning perspective, but Chicago ultimately didn’t have the funds necessary to net Melo. As a result, the Bulls moved forward by signing Pau Gasol and bringing highly touted prospect Nikola Mirotic to the NBA from overseas.
Anthony, meanwhile, returned to New York on a five-year, $124 million deal—$5 million less than the max—per ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley.
If the Knicks lost the former scoring champ to another suitor, they would have been forced to move forward with Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. They have to ride out 2014-15 with those guys anyway, but retaining Anthony gives firepower for the future.
With plenty of salary set to come off the books in 2015, the Zen Master can court talented stars to play beside Carmelo.
It also can’t be understated that the Knicks managed to trade into the 2014 draft and dump Raymond Felton in the same move.
New York sent Felton and Tyson Chandler’s expiring contract to the Mavericks in exchange for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and a pair of second-round picks. It used those second-rounders to net Wichita State standout Cleanthony Early and Thanasis “Brother of the ‘Greek Freak’” Antetokounmpo.
That’s a win for the Knicks even though they had to sweat out Anthony’s decision.