Apr 6, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) guards Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA: A LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony Pairing Already A Done Deal?


The summer of 2010 forever changed the landscape of the NBA when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh agreed to join forces in South Beach to contend for multiple championships with the Miami Heat.

Stephen A. Smith, a columnist and analyst for ESPN, was one of the first in the industry to break the news before it actually happened, stating that the three players’ decision to play together was ultimately agreed upon months in advance. With all of the current rumors surrounding a potential “Big 4″ in Miami and the New York Knicks awaiting Carmelo Anthony‘s decision to either opt in or out of the final season of his contract (he has until Jun. 23), Smith is back at it again.

On his radio show for ESPN New York on Thursday, he stated it’s about a 95 percent chance that LeBron and Carmelo team up to play together should they both opt in to their contracts for next season, then opting out next summer. In a column for ESPN, Smith also highlighted that LeBron is a man of his word and has expressed his affinity to play with Carmelo, and his stance on playing with him is similar to the one back in 2010 he had on Wade and Bosh.

The plan would be for LeBron to sign with the Knicks in 2015 when nearly $50 million in cap space will come off the books between the contracts of Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani. With LeBron and Carmelo, along with Phil Jackson, the Knicks would attempt to lure another marquee free agent to sign as well, with Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo and Marc Gasol possibly available.

For that to happen though, Carmelo has to commit to playing another season in New York under new rookie head coach Derek Fisher in the presumed triangle offense with a team not built for a deep postseason run. He’s 30 years old, coming off a year in which he averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds and the Knicks still went from being the second seed in the Eastern conference to missing the playoffs completely. With no real attractive trade assets, cap space or draft picks, the team has little opportunity to improve much this offseason.

That reason alone may ultimately be the reason why Carmelo leaves New York. The Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls are all gearing up to make a run at him next month when free agency begins, with all three teams presenting a much more attractive situation in terms of winning sooner.

Bottom line: LeBron wants to play with Carmelo, Carmelo wants to play with Lebron.

“Dwyane Wade trusted this. Chris Bosh trusted this. And – bet the house – Carmelo Anthony trusts that what LeBron James says he’ll do, he will do.” – Stephen A. Smith.

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