Not the Chicago Bulls nor the Houston Rockets were good enough for Carmelo Anthony, who has decided to take the money option and stay with the New York Knicks for what should be a five-year contract, but it also means his hopes and expectations to win a championship as soon as possible were trumped by his ambition to get paid as much money as possible.
At least for one year, Carmelo Anthony is willing to wait. Wait for his chance at the NBA title. This was possibly a way to demonstrate his faith in Phil Jackson. His love for the city of New York, and how important it is for him to keep his family in one place. But for someone who talked about wanting to win, choosing a team that isn’t going anywhere during the 2014-2015 season, suddenly taking the max offer over the chance to play for a better franchise sounds surprising.
The Knicks won’t sign Anthony for the max max. He’ll get paid around $122 million over the next five seasons instead of $129. It doesn’t matter. He’ll eventually be the highest paid player in the NBA, although the new deal between TV and the NBA might change that prediction, especially with LeBron James getting “only” a two-year deal and other big names also opening up their deals while Anthony will be married to the Knicks.
Right now, aside from Kevin Love and maybe LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol, there isn’t a free agent worth shuffling your entire salary cap for. Maybe Rajon Rondo if the Celtics don’t trade him sooner. The Knicks’ angles towards building a championship teams are narrow. Obviously, they’ll have a lot more to work with once all those deals, and especially the money they’re paying Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are off the table, but they took some not-so-great contracts when they traded Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks for a handful of players in return.
Anthony told the Bulls and Rockets to stop waiting for him. He’s staying in New York, and doesn’t care about playing for a team that this season might not be even making the playoffs. Next Season? Anthony leaves that in the hands of Phil Jackson, in hope that he can convince players to sign, although there won’t be infinite cap space to make moves. Because of Anthony’s contract, and because of the contracts they swallowed through the deal with the Mavs.
Maybe Anthony has some sort of understanding with Jackson. Maybe there’s a promise for a trade if things don’t work out. Otherwise, it’s hard to believe that Anthony has no problem going into a deal with a blindfold over his eyes. For someone who wanted to contend for titles, suddenly waiting a little bit longer doesn’t matter, as long as he gets the max deal from his team. There’s nothing wrong with taking as much money as possible. Maybe that’s the most important thing when becoming a pro. But Anthony has lost the right to speak about wanting a championship and contention more than anyone else.
There’s also the loyalty part of the deal. The Knicks are loyal to Anthony, partly because they didn’t have a choice. Not signing him would have meant automatically becoming one of the worst teams in the NBA, with a rookie head coach who is fickle with his decisions when it comes to staying on a team according to his playing career. The theory says that a team with Anthony as the number one player while receiving a max contract will never be able to contend for a title.
Anthony and Jackson are betting against that theory. They’re willing to come together for one season of just passing the time and letting Fisher learn the ropes before making moves for bigger names in 2015. Will it work? No one knows, but what is quite clear is that the Knicks could find themselves in a very awkward situation a couple of years from now: With an unhappy Carmelo Anthony who gets paid like a king, but is nowhere near winning a championship, wasting away his prime.