Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The New York Knicks franchise is a mess.
Head coach Mike Woodson is on the hot seat and the players are concerned for him. James Dolan, the owner, is so desperate to win more than his cross-city rival that he declared the Knicks as a championship contender before the season started. Then after a few games, Dolan was ready to take away the cheerleaders due to the level of ineptitude that he saw from the team. Things have gotten so bad in New York that the Knicks are currently destined for a lottery pick.
Earlier in the season, Carmelo Anthony, who can opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent, expressed how he’s looking forward to becoming a free agent and having teams recruit him. Plus, Stephen A. Smith reported Wednesday during his radio show on ESPN New York that Anthony is ready to leave the Knicks this summer.
Why would Anthony want to stay? If the ultimate goal is to win, what good does it serve him by staying in New York, a franchise that is going nowhere fast? Is it best for him to sign with another team perhaps, like the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, or any other team with cap space?
The Knicks, currently 3-13, are not contenders – this year or next, and Anthony knows that. He knows Amar’e Stoudemire is not the same Amar’e who was an MVP candidate in his first year with the team and has now been demoted to a bench role. He knows Tyson Chandler has been injured, but in all likelihood, even with Chandler healthy, the Knicks would not be a top team in the conference as currently constructed. Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Andrea Bargnani are the teammates that are supposed to help him win a championship?
Going forward, the Knicks are cap-strapped with Stoudemire, Chandler and Bargnani’s contracts totaling close to $50 million in cap space until the summer of 2015, which leaves the Knicks with little opportunity to improve the roster in free agency.
It doesn’t help that Anthony’s numbers have decreased from last season. This season he’s averaging 26.3 points per game, down from 28.7 last year, along with his field goal percentage and three point percentage. Part of the reason the Knicks are 3-13 is because of his inability to have an impact on the game in more ways than just scoring. Change is simply needed in New York, and a change of scenery is needed for Anthony as well.
And for that change of scenery, Hollywood is calling…
The Lakers, no matter how you slice it, will entertain the idea of signing Anthony this summer. Reports first surfaced of these intentions back in Oct. 2012. Kobe Bryant is on record saying out of all the players in the league, he would want to play with Anthony the most. Bryant just signed a two-year extension last week, but the Lakers could still offer Anthony a max contract this summer, though there would be little cap space left to build a championship roster around the two. Now, could the Lakers compete for a championship with Bryant and Anthony? That’s a different argument.
Is it just a coincidence that back in September, Bryant and Anthony’s wives were spotted in West Long Angeles dining together?
Anthony will turn 30 in May. This is a player who’s been labeled an offensive juggernaut his entire career going back to his days at Syracuse when he won a national championship as a freshman. He’s been out of the first round just twice in his 11-year professional career.
If there was ever a player who could hold Anthony accountable and get him to measure up to NBA championship expectations, it would be Bryant. Bryant knows a thing or two (five to be exact) about championships and the sacrifice that is required. Sacrifice was required to win that three-peat with the Lakers when he had to defer to Shaquille O’Neal and be the second option. And look how his career turned out.
What good does it do Anthony to stay with the Knicks and re-sign for close to $129 million just to finish his career with a mediocre team?
The grass is always greener on the other side. That’s how it goes. Ask LeBron James.
Anthony has to realize the one thing that’s needed to pursue a championship, which he has failed to do so far – sacrifice.
Leaving New York is the first step in the whole process.