Phil Jackson knows the difference between Miami, San Antonio, and New York. He knows asking Carmelo Anthony to take less money because those teams got their star players to do it is not an apples to apples comparison.
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all took less money to go to Miami (not that much less when you consider Florida has no state income tax), they knew they were going to be on a supremely talented team that would contend right away. When Tim Duncan re-signed with San Antonio for less he too knew he would contend and also did it a little later in his career. Carmelo has no such guarantees.
The Knicks are coming off a 37-45 season, have fired their coach, and their starting point guard is in danger of going to jail or prison sometime during the next season. For Anthony to take less money in New York instead of taking less than the Knicks max in Houston or Chicago would be an enormous leap of faith on his part that he just hasn’t shown he is willing to make.
Carmelo has called missing the playoffs for the first time in his career “embarrassing” and that it was hard to get over. He has also stated on numerous occasions that “At the point in my career where I want to rebuild.”
That’s something the Knicks may be doing next year with or without their all-star forward.
The Knicks have three massive expiring contracts next season in Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Andrea Bargnani. Some free agents next offseason could be Kevin Love, Goran Dragic, and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Knicks, always a team ready to make an offseason splash, are undoubtedly salivating at the chance of getting at least one of these guys to the garden.
The problem though is at least one of these guys (Aldridge) may extend with his current team and another (Love) may be traded and extended with that team. Staying with the Knicks and hoping that they can bring him help is not a championship recipe for Melo and he knows it.
Players more and more are having a big hand in molding their surrounding cast either by influence on the GM, demanding a trade, or leaving in free agency. Taking money from a team that has been subpar for much of the last 15 years when you want to win a championship is very risky.
Carmelo though forced his way to New York and wanted to be here so much he pretended New York was his home town. Maybe he is actively recruiting and making progress on getting some other max player to New York. It just seems hard to believe that Melo would take less money on a leap of faith, which is exactly what Phil appears to be asking.