There has been a lot said and written about Carmelo Anthony and his upcoming free agency. When he went public with his desire to opt-out of his contract before the New York Knicks began this season immediately rumors began to swirl about where Anthony might land. Now his friend and greatest rival, LeBron James of the Miami Heat, says Anthony should do whatever makes him happy when it's time for Anthony to decide where he'll play after this season.
The New York Knicks have said they wont trade Carmelo Anthony even if he told them he wouldn't be re-signing with them in the off-season. That means Anthony basically has three options in the off-season. He could opt-in to his contract and return to the Knicks with a $23,333,403 for the 2014-15 season.
That would allow him to keep his high salary and become a free agent in the 2015 off-season when Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace and possibly others all come off the Knicks' books. He could then either sign elsewhere or re-sign with the Knicks for the maximum and help bring other players to New York.
He could also opt-out as planned. That leaves the option to either sign elsewhere or re-sign with the Knicks for $30 million more than any other team can offer him. That seems like a no-brainer unless Anthony believes he can't win a title with the Knicks.
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reports Anthony's friend LeBron James thinks Anthony should do whatever makes him happy.
"You got to do whatever makes [you] happy at the end of the day. If you’re happy, the game of basketball is going to be fun for you," James said. "Strive to be great every day, and you can live with whatever else happens."
James Dolan and the Knicks are hoping that playing in New York is what would make Anthony the happiest and are willing to pay him more than anyone to make that happen. There's little doubt that Anthony is worth the money.
However, James was also asked about taking less money. He did it, although with Florida taxes it wasn't as much of a discount as many make it out to be. James made it clear that he wouldn't tell anyone to leave money on the table but that for him it was the right choice.
"I recommend it to me. It fit me," James said. "What I do don’t work for everybody. The way I live my life don’t work for everybody. But all I cared about is winning. I came to Miami to win. Money didn’t make me happy. Winning made me happy, and it still does. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to me."
James, for what it's worth, believes Anthony is committed to winning as well. That would be one reason for Anthony to potentially take less then a maximum contract, a la James. "I know he wants to win. I know he can win," James said. "… this is what we’re here for. Here to win. You dream about winning a championship. He’s trying to figure out the way to do it."
That brings up an interesting fourth option for Anthony next off-season. Could he re-sign with the Knicks for less than the maximum? The simple answer is, sure he could. That doesn't make it very likely though. We've been in the way Anthony forced his way to New York that money is important to him. Who could blame him?
However, taking less isn't out of the question. First of all, he's seen it work with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Make no mistake about it, Anthony loves his money but he envies the position his three peers are in. Maybe Anthony realizes that a championship could be easier to obtain in New York if he lowered his asking price.
Secondly, Anthony's never been the highest paid player since he came to the Knicks. That distinction belongs to Amare Stoudemire. In fact, Stoudemire is scheduled to make $23,410,988 next season. If Anthony is willing to continue that trend he may be able to give Steve Mills more money to build a roster around him. A lot of that will come down to Anthony's faith in the Knicks' front office.
In the end, James is right. Anthony should do what makes him happy. If that means leaving $30 million on the table to go elsewhere in hopes of chasing a championship then so be it. Free agency is one of the few times players have the chance to control their fate.
That being said, winning in New York isn't like winning anywhere else. Anthony would go from an underachieving star to a legend over night if he brought a title back to Madison Square Garden. That's just the reality of the situation.
That alone could be incentive enough to leave money on the table and re-signing with the Knicks at a discount. There's little doubt how much money would flow Anthony's way if he won a championship with the Knicks.
That being said, discount or not the Knicks fully hope to re-sign Anthony next off-season. They hope this is the place that makes Anthony happy. They also hope he can make them happy and eventually bring a title to Madison Square Garden. That would make New York very happy.
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