It seemed like the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets or Chicago Bulls were going to strike gold last week.
While Carmelo Anthony was deciding his fate, reports (although, the media was inaccurate as heck most of the time) indicated that those three teams were the heaviest suitors for him, all of them offering four year max deals.
The Lakers “closed in” on a deal for ‘Melo and we never heard anything from them again (ha-ha, you can say that again). The Bulls did pretty much the same thing as the Lakers and Anthony told the Rockets “screw you, I’m returning to New York,” despite the banner that was hung outside of the Toyota Center, vexing Jeremy Lin in the process. Lots of flirting and rejection in the end. Reminds me of my high school prom buildup…
I couldn’t be anymore happier with Anthony returning. Yes, paying him almost $26 and 27 million, respectively, in his final two years sounds like a downer. Yes, he ran after the moolah. What else is new? Haven’t you realized pro sports is a business by now? Let’s move away from that.
People chastised Anthony for not taking a pay cut in his new contract, because he said he would take one to help out the team in any facet back in February. Well, he did take a pay cut, just not an immense one like people were hoping for. Melo took $5 million less than the max. I would like to clear something up for the misinformed: The common misconception people bring up is that Melo’s new deal intrudes the Knicks’ almighty 2015 cap space.
His contract will still give them financial flexibility to assist the Knicks’ recruitment of free agents an offseason from now. Because Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani‘s contracts will be cleared in 2015 (thank the higher power), they would have the ability to ink another max free agent, perhaps Marc Gasol, Rajon Rondo or whoever that may be down the road.
Obviously, right now, we can’t pinpoint how Melo is going to play in, let’s say, three years or so. Make all the Nate Silver-like projections you want, but none of them will actually project correctly.
All we know right now is that Anthony has played the best basketball of his career the last two seasons, something indicative of him deserving his new near-max deal. He amassed a league-leading 28.7 points a contest, a .184 WS/48, 37% from downtown and a .278 3 point attempt rate in the Knicks’ closest season to Eastern Conference Finals glory in forever and 27.4 points a game, a.172 WS/48, 40% from three and a .253 3 point attempt rate last season, respectively. The Knicks were so mediocre last year that Melo was forced to play decent defense, something that was never his forte by any means for his whole career. He posted his career-best 12.3 TRB%, as well as 8.1 rebounds a contest in a league-leading 38.7 minutes a game.
Critics always bashed on Anthony’s inability to pass the ball, as well as calling him a “ball stopper.” Enough with the ignorance. Melo’s passing ability is perhaps the most underrated part of his game. He’s shown that he can do it consistently, whether it’s passing out of double teams in the post or even running the fast break. I mean, sure, when your offensive tactics revolved around giving the ball to one player with seven seconds or less (no pun intended) on the shot clock, forcing the player to heave a contested last second attempt from Betelgeuse, it’s totally fair to be awarded that title.
It’s not like San Antonio Spurs-esque ball movement is oblivious to the Knicks; two years ago, that’s what the offense was based on, predicating ball movement and hitting the open man, just like how Red Holzman preached.
Unfortunately, last year, their small-ball philosophy that was predicated around ball movement and the unwonted use of the three point shot, the reasons why they got to the Eastern Conference semis, were put on a respirator and…Yeah, we know what happened.
People, like myself, keep repeating themselves about the triangle offense; it’s been known that the famed triangle has barely, or not at all, clicked without an All-Star/superstar player in the mold. Derek Fisher has proclaimed that Anthony will be a fantastic fit into the triangle offense. Anthony has refined his game so much over the past couple of years as a stretch-four that he’s starting to, or has, looked like a complete player. He’s definitely capable of being the cornerstone of the triangle offense.
At first, I was very, and still somewhat am, skeptical about the triangle. But during the Summer League games, Fisher implemented some nice triangle sets in game. Cleanthony Early, Shane Larkin and Jeremy Tyler looked awesome in the sets, regardless of the result in the possession. If a rook and other reserves looked good in the system, then Melo can look good, too.
Anthony is one of the six players in the NBA to have a no trade clause contained in his contract, something indicative of the huge sacrifice being made by him. I couldn’t have asked for a better sacrifice. Melo could have chosen Houston, L.A or Chicago, but he’s made that colossal commitment to try and bring back the elusive Finals title the Knicks haven’t seen in 41 years over the next 5 seasons. I like that.
Welcome back, Melo. Go get em’.