All the talk from other people about Carmelo Anthony winning an NBA championship has made him think and choose his words carefully. Yes, he wants to stay with the New York Knicks and is even willing to take a salary cut in order to make it work, but he admits it will only happen if he sees a clear plan to win an NBA title.
Right now, the Knicks aren’t heading in that direction. They are 20-32 with a cap situation that won’t help them get much better next season, especially with a squad mostly made up of aging players without too much of an upside. But if Anthony is patient, things might get a lot better in 2015.
How? Well, the contracts of Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler come off the books. The team has only $13 million on the books past the 2014-2015 season, half of that going to J.R. Smith with a player option for that season. Raymond Felton makes up about 25% of that obligation, but he is tradable, unlike Smith is. The other deals are Pablo Prigioni, who can stay or move, because at $1.7 million he’s worth the money, and the satisfying rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
Anthony has indicated his plan has always been to stay and retire with the Knicks, but that was when it seemed like he was going to be part of a team that competes for titles. However, he’s going to opt out of his deal at the end of this season, with re-signing a long term one in mind, but only if the Knicks lay out a plan he likes in front of him. If not, than maybe starting to look for a new team or asking for a trade comes to mind. He might also take the course of exercising his option for the 2014-2015 season ($23 million) and leave after that one, when most of the league will have the cap space to go after him.
This week was another one in which the Knicks realized that every time they’ll build something of a winning streak reality will hit them in the face. The team built there is expensive, but simply not good enough, even in a horrible East, for so many reasons, including a head coach that seems to have lost the team ,or at least his ability to actually influence it. This isn’t what Anthony signed up for, but if he can’t be enough to pull them out of this situation, how good is he really?
We heard from a number of coaches and other people who love to speak their mind about how Anthony should put himself in a situation that allows him to win an NBA championsip. What the same people didn’t say is that Anthony, with all of his talents, isn’t good enough to be paid like a #1 player, act like a #1 player and get his team all the way. The playoffs? Anthony has yet to miss a postseason in his career, and he might still keep that streak going with a late Knicks resurgence. But championship? For that it’s going to take some re-thinking about his ability and place in the NBA, which also means getting paid like a #2 player from now on, which isn’t likely to happen in the next few years.