At 30 years old, Carmelo Anthony is tired of waiting. He’s tired of receiving promises that don’t pan out and sitting back while other superstars bask in the glory of winning an NBA championship.
Entering the final year of his contract, Carmelo certainly isn’t ready to pledge allegiance to team president Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks just yet, especially if he’s allowed to opt out and become a free agent this summer.
Jackson, on the other hand, believes that he can somehow change Anthony’s mind in coming back to the Big Apple to try and put the Knicks back on the map and compete for a title with a team full of ridiculous contracts and injury-prone veterans.
The Zen Master has the credibility to prove that he has the ability to bring home a championship to Manhattan, given his 11 rings as a coach and two as a player. But the amount of success Jackson will experience during his first full season as president of basketball operations will be determined by Anthony’s decision this offseason.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Jackson sat down with Anthony to discuss his future with the Knicks. He reportedly told the seven-time All-Star to opt in for the final year of his contract and not test the free agent market because it would give the team a better opportunity to sign two high profiled players in 2015 due to the added salary cap flexibility.
That dinner date Phil Jackson had with Carmelo Anthony last month could end up saving the Knicks millions this summer and ultimately help Jackson improve the roster.
Jackson revealed on Friday that he advised Anthony not to opt out of his contract on July 1st and instead wait until July 2015 to give the Knicks added salary cap flexibility to acquire two “headline players.”
If Anthony’s intentions are to win his first championship with the Knicks, then complying with Jackson would be mutually beneficial for both sides. New York will still retain its best player for next season, keeping it competitive in the Eastern Conference. Despite their disappointing 37-45 finish this season which kept them out of the playoffs, they only finished one game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed. This means that the Knicks have a good chance in getting over the hump next year if they are able to bring back their floor general.
The Knicks would also benefit from Anthony’s contract coming off the books at the same time as the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Subtracting four contracts that exceed $12 million or more gives New York an advantage in signing some of the big name free agents in 2015. Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge and LeBron James will highlight next year’s free agent class, so pairing one of these superstars with Carmelo would allow the Knicks to compete with the Miami Heat and the Pacers for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.
Regardless of the benefits to bring back Anthony, the chances of Jackson getting his wish is highly unlikely if Carmelo isn’t interested in waiting another to win a championship. Jackson knows that there are several teams that have a better chance in capturing a title next year and are also intrigued in adding Anthony’s services, like the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets.
Houston would trade almost anything not named Dwight Howard and James Harden to get at Anthony and they would go all in on a contract too. There has been talk that Houston has offered up Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in a “give away” trade that could include their draft pick in the first round or a roster player like Terrence Jones to get those salaries off the books.
It’ll also be hard for Carmelo to commit to a team that doesn’t even have a head coach. Jackson’s first hire as team president must be someone that Carmelo would be willing to play for. ESPNNewYork’s Ian Begley wrote that Anthony would “embrace” the opportunity to play under Mark Jackson, who is currently an analyst for ABC. Begley also regarded the fact that even though Jackson desires a younger head coach that can effectively run the triangle offense, a factor that he should be considering is Carmelo’s preference.