Carmelo Anthony had plenty of options when free agency began. However, most of those options have committed money that prevents them from signing Anthony at this point. The New York Knicks are in a position of power and should call Anthony's bluff of signing elsewhere by offering him less than the maximum.
When free agency began Carmelo Anthony looked at the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls as possible alternatives to returning to the New York Knicks. However, at this point all of those teams have other financial commitments.
The Dallas Mavericks have made a large commitment of three years, $35 million to restricted free agent Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets. The Rockets could very well match the contract but whoever ends up with Parsons will take themselves out of the market for Anthony.
Meanwhile, the Rockets still have too much money in Omer Asik. They'd been working on trading Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans but haven't been able to close the deal as of yet.
There are rumors of the Pelicans talking to the Cleveland Cavaliers about Alonzo Gee that could lead to New Orleans finally completing the Asik deal but there's obviously a lot of moving parts there. For right now, Houston isn't in a place to sign Anthony.
Houston did dump Jeremy Lin and his contract on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers took Lin and a draft pick. When you take Lin's deal, the four year deal worth $21.5 million they gave to Nick Young, and the two year deal worth $18 million they gave Jordan Hill the Lakers have pretty much lost any chance of signing Anthony.
Then there's the Chicago Bulls. Interestingly enough, they are attached to the Lakers. Chicago is working out a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers involving Carlos Boozer and Pau Gasol. Signing Gasol takes the Bulls out of the market for Anthony.
All of that adds up to Anthony re-signing with the Knicks. However, it also puts the Knicks in a position of power. Why should they automatically commit the maximum to Anthony when there are no other suitors to outbid?
Phil Jackson must be smiling. He wants Anthony back but he wants Anthony to take less than the max so the team keep flexibility to add to the roster. Jackson's never been in a better position to negotiate that.
Anthony is very likely still to demand the max. Jackson should hold strong to an offer less than the maximum and more than anyone else can offer. At this point Houston is the only threat and they still have to make roster moves.
The right play is to calculate what Houston can offer if they clear roster space and offer just a bit more. That should land Anthony and save money to add to the roster in the future which is in both New York's and Anthony's best interest.
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