During his Friday media session, Carmelo Anthony played acoustic guitar in an unplugged set of summer free agency riffing. ‘Melo can opt out of his current Knicks deal this summer, and with the Knicks at 20-32 on the season with a litany of on- and off-court issues mucking things up in the locker-room, many want to know what he’s going to do. But if Knicks ownership convinces him there’s a plan in place, and incorporates Anthony’s own ideas into the blueprint for success, he might even be willing to take less money and stay.
The question of how much less ‘Melo is willing to take remains to be seen since he obviously wasn’t talking numbers. But we do know he’ll get an extra fifth year and $33 million more if he re-signs in New York after opting out. That’s probably why he said stay with the Knicks was his “first priority.”
Here’s what Anthony said when asked if he’d take less than a max contract to remain in New York with the Knicks (by way of the New York Post):
“Without a doubt. Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, if it takes me taking a paycut, I’ll be the first one on Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying: ‘Take my money and let’s build something strong over here.’
“As far as the money, it doesn’t really matter to me. If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern. My concern is to be able to compete on a high level, a championship level, coming in this last stretch of my career. I want to compete at that level.”
But there’s a caveat to Melo’s thinking: he would need to get something in return for taking less than max, and “take my money” is ambiguous. The amount he agrees to chop off the max could be forfeiting a tiny Kobe Bryant amount, or a more substantial Tim Duncan sum. There’s a substantial difference if you look at LA’s financial future compared to San Antonio.
So what does ‘Melo want? He wants an active role in crafting the team around him; like a GM light or a VP of operations:
“I haven’t had any in depth conversation with management about who I want to play with. What kind of team we should have. I’ve never had those conversations. I always look at what’s going on and always feel naively I could change it and turn it around and put it on my shoulders.
“That time is going to come. When that time comes, everything will be laid out on the table. If they can counter that we have a long future ahead of us”
Then Anthony turned around and told ESPN later today:
“I want to win a championship, so I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win a championship. If that means testing free agency, what happens on that market, so be it.”
All the insider intrigue and media murmurings remain empty until the summer time. Until we know just how bad the Knicks end up finishing, whether they miss the postseason, get swept in the first round, or make it to the Conference Finals (probably not), we’ll just rip apart any morsel of info ‘Melo throws our way. Only after the season ends will Knicks fans and the rest of the salivating public know what his decision might be. But he’s saying everything Knicks fans want to believe, it’s just most don’t trust the ownership:
“Even as a fan of New York, not me talking, they should want to make the situation better,” Anthony said from a New Orleans podium. “They should want to have us competing at a championship level just for the sake of the fans of New York and the organization, what it stands for, the history of the organization They should want to be in those talks when they’re talking about who’s the best team.”
“I didn’t expect the first half the season to go how we’re going, coming off last season. I was expecting us to take another step forward. Obviously we took a couple of steps back. I’ll evaluate that when the time comes.”
Until then, we’re pretty sick of thinking about where or where not Carmelo Anthony might sign five or six months from now. There’s a lot of basketball left, particularly this weekend.
What do you think?
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