One of the least surprising announcements we’ll be getting this summer is that of Carmelo Anthony opting out of his contract for one more year with the New York Knicks and hitting free agency. Obviously, he can still simply sign a new, better deal with the team but according to all the signs this scenario is showing us, he probably prefers going to play somewhere else.
The Knicks hired Phil Jackson to put this franchise back on track to winning an NBA championship. In 2013, the Knicks reached the conference semifinal, but everyone felt that was about the most you can get from a roster that isn’t filled with young, talented players and has too many declining figures on overpaying deals. One of his priorities was getting Anthony to stay on board. On paper, opting out means that Anthony can now sign an extension with the team, but the vibe coming from the interactions and comments points to the other direction.
Anthony, after 11 seasons in the league and not making the playoffs for the first time, is hungry for being in contention for a title. He has only made the conference finals once during his time with the Denver Nuggets. He has made the playoffs three times with the Knicks. In his career, he has only won three playoff series, despite making the postseason 10 times. It doesn’t take simply watching his draft class mates of James, Wade and Bosh to realize that while has done some impressive things individually, his career hasn’t brought him the kind of team success that makes a player a bit more memorable after he retires.
There are options for Anthony that seem better than the Knicks to fulfill his needs. The Dallas Mavericks actually have the cap space, an excellent head coach and owner to sign him off free agency and add him to a roster that might be very promising with the right improvements. The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls might be in a better position to compete, but it’s a bit trickier for them to try and add him without pursuing a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks or moving some parts around to open up some cap space for Anthony.
There is the Miami Heat option for Anthony, but right now in South Beach everyone’s waiting for LeBron James and the Big Three to make their decisions about staying, opting out and re-signing or simply hitting free agency and dissolving the team that won two NBA titles, making four finals series. Whether or not they open up some space for Anthony might become the biggest piece of news this offseason, but that’s still on hold.
Maybe it’s good for the New York Knicks that Anthony is one step closer to leaving? Anthony doesn’t feel like the kind of player you can build a championship team around. He is a superstar, playing on the biggest stage in the NBA. However, his salary and limitations as a player make it impossible to build around him and realistically expect a championship. Anthony will probably take a pay cut no matter where he goes, unless that title ring isn’t as important to him as he makes it seem to be.