So, the inevitable happened. After a long season of stating he would test the market, Carmelo Anthony has decided to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. This could mean that his days as a member of the New York Knicks are in the past, but maybe they shouldn’t be.
For starters, New York is where Anthony was born and the place he wants to be. He seemingly forced his way there three and a half years ago and while things haven’t gone as planned, he has been a bright spot. Some of the best moments of his career have happened with the Knicks. He seems to be entering the prime of his career, he set a franchise record for points in a game with 62, and he has the second-highest PPG average as a Knick all-time (26.5).
In that short period of time, he has become one of the greatest players to ever wear blue and orange.
Anthony has also been vocal about how he doesn’t want to be a part of rebuild, and after missing the playoffs this year, it seems as though the Knicks are headed in that direction. With no financial flexibility and no draft picks heading into Thursday’s NBA Draft, a quick fix is unlikely, so why should he even be a part of it as he is at the peak of his career?
Well, I have two reasons for him to stay, and they go by the names of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.
While the Knicks are currently a mess, who would be better to help get them out of it than the Zen Master himself? He hired one of the players who helped him earn five of his 11 titles in Fisher. These two guys have the chemistry and winning pedigree that Anthony is searching for. These guys aren’t used to losing — they don’t even know how to lose.
Plus, Fisher has proven to be a great role model and friend to star players like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant over his career, so why would he not be able to get along with Anthony?
If Anthony chooses to go elsewhere, he is leaving behind home and won’t be able to come back. While the Knicks may not look like a great place to be on paper, what other potential situation is better for him to go to? I think it is safe to say that he won’t go to the Miami Heat for some super “Big Four”. That leaves potential suitors like the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. All of these teams have a lot of question marks.
First is Dallas, who did give the San Antonio Spurs their toughest challenge in the playoffs, but have an aging roster with guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and soon-to-be free agent Shawn Marion. The Rockets have a lot of talent and their could be a “Big Three” with Anthony, James Harden and Dwight Howard, but would all of those players be able to coexist? Nobody on that roster has championship experience as well, and that is the goal for Anthony.
The Lakers are risky in the fact that even though they have a lot of cap room, they have a lot of roster spots to fill and two of their players on their roster, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, are aging and had injury-riddled seasons in 2013-14. Plus, all three of these teams are in the Western Conference, which has a lot more depth than the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls also have a lot of questions. They have a lot of talent and a solid coach in Tom Thibodeau, but they are a regular season team. They have had a lot of good years, but haven’t even made it out of the weak Eastern Conference. Even with their current roster, the Knicks still have a chance to compete in the East. Plus, Derrick Rose and his injury problems pose another big question mark for the Bulls.
There is a lot of uncertainty in all of these teams, including New York, but there are a couple of certainties there that Anthony wouldn’t have anywhere else. He is already loved and has a legacy in New York, and with the great mind of Jackson, there is always a chance that said legacy could finally include winning.