Apr 6, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) walks back to the bench during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Life Without Carmelo Anthony

Free agency is officially under way in the NBA.

The New York Knicks have gone to great lengths to seduce Carmelo Anthony.

They somehow managed to get not one, but two picks in the 2014 NBA Draft by trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks, a trade we’ve previously discussed here. They’ve got championship pedigree on board (read: Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher).

They’ve got the first point guard for their triangle offense in Jose Calderon. They even have a five-year, $130 million deal with Carmelo’s name written all over it.

Regardless, that might not be enough.

With the league’s free agent market opening on July 1, Carmelo Anthony’s got a lot on his plate. He could just be getting a feel for said market to scare the Knicks into giving him max money (not that he has to), or he could be serious about leaving.

Take a look at Anthony’s open-market schedule:

Met with the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, July 1.

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are next Wednesday, July 2. The Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled for Thursday.

No scheduled meetings with the Knicks.

Although Anthony’s decision’s not expected to come until the second week of July, the fact of the matter is that Melo may have already made up his mind. After all, the Knicks look like they’ll have some trouble matching the Bulls’, Mavs’ or Rockets’ winning chances.

If Melo leaves, he needs to go to Chicago. Chicago’s the youngest, most win-ready team in Melodrama. At 93.7 points per game, the Bulls ranked 30th in the league in scoring and are in dire need of offensive firepower. Landing Carmelo’s a must for their chances at contention.

The Bulls also have 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and ranked 1st in opponents points per game with 91.8. This doesn’t mean the Bulls nor Melo would win each year. It means they’ll both be putting themselves in a position to do so.

If Melo leaves, the Knicks need to learn from their mistakes and realize they’ve dodged a bullet. With Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($12 million) opting into the final year of their contracts, keeping Melo would be a devastating blow to the Knicks’ depth and rebuilding chances.

At the rate he’s getting paid ($20-plus million per year), the Knicks would have around $61 million committed to Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Bargnani ($12 million), J.R. Smith ($5.9 million), and Anthony (+/- $20 million).

If they let Carmelo go, they’d be losing their franchise player. They’d also be sitting about +/- $8 million below the 2014-15 projected salary cap of $63 million. Definitely not enough to land a top free-agent, but enough to woo some younger and cheaper talent–the Chandler Parsonses, Trevor Arizas and Taj Gibsons of the world.

The new collective bargaining agreement is meant to suppress super-teams, to eradicate the chance to keep up super-team experiments for long periods of time. The new CBA’s made to build teams with depth.

The Miami Heat have gone to four straight NBA Finals, and it’s not been enough. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have not been enough.

Their future’s doomed if they don’t improve the team’s depth.

By joining the Houston Rockets, Carmelo would be walking into a similar situation. They have the money he’s asking for, but paying Carmelo Anthony might nuke the Rockets’ depth.

The Knicks have two of the leagues worst contracts in Amar’e and Bargnani. They’ll have three if they keep Carmelo.

The Knicks had better cut their losses.

Tags: 2014 NBA Free Agency Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks

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