It’s started already. Carmelo Anthony’s impending free agency was already going to be a hot topic this year, but following a profile with Observer, it’s now going to be an even bigger deal.
Anthony has the choice to opt-out of his contract at the end of the 2013-14 season and join a class of free agents that could rank as the most talented in NBA history. The topic isn’t just heating up now, but so far it’s been kept to dull roar. People want to know if Anthony is going to leave the New York Knicks, his “hometown” team that he joined midway through the 2010-11 season, or if he’ll flee for another team, a new location, perhaps a greener pasture. He commented on the issue in the profile:
“I want to be a free agent,” Anthony tells me, as our cigars burn close to the nub. “I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.”
Take a breath, Knicks fans. That doesn’t mean he’s leaving.
“I came to New York for a reason,” Anthony adds. “I’ve been with you all my life, almost to a fault. I wanted to come here and take on the pressures of playing in New York. So one thing I would tell my fans: If you haven’t heard it from me, then it ain’t true.”
Economically speaking, Anthony should opt out. Under the new rules in the current collective bargaining agreement, if Anthony opts out and re-signs with the Knicks, he can sign an extended contract worth over $120 million. That alone is probably the Knicks’ biggest bargaining chip. No matter the millions of dollars top-flight athletes make through their careers, that kind of deal is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On top of that, the Knicks will likely have some semblance of cap space in 2015, meaning they could tailor a team to Anthony’s liking.
However, leaving the Knicks might be Anthony’s best shot at a title, realistically. The current team’s window is closing, and while they’ll still be a top team in the East, overcoming the likes of the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, and Chicago Bulls will be difficult by itself, let alone then beating a Western Conference foe. The deck of the Eastern Conference could well reshuffle within the next few years, but there’s no guarantee the Knicks can come out on top. Depending on who may pursue ‘Melo, he might have better odds at winning.
And frankly, this all doesn’t matter for almost another 10 months. With the season rapidly approaching, this is a crucial year for the Knicks. Unfortunately, Anthony just opened up the box, and now, it’s going to be part of the discussion for the next 10 months.
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