Reports have suggested that Carmelo Anthony has stayed true to his word and has informed the New York Knicks that he will opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent.
Anthony is 30 years old and has left $23.5 million on the table but is hoping to recoup that money in what will surely be his last big contract in the NBA. ‘Melo opting out could lead to a plethora of players joining him, perhaps even the big three of Miami that includes LeBron James.
Rumors of Anthony joining Miami ran rampant during the NBA Finals though this was described as a ‘pipe dream’ by Heat president Pat Riley. However, after what transpired in the summer of 2010, nothing is impossible for Riley and the Miami Heat. For the ‘big 3’ to become a ‘big 4’ requires James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all to opt out and take large pay cuts.
Miami isn’t the only team reportedly looking to make a play for Anthony’s services. Along with the Heat, the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets are also hoping that ‘Melo will take his talents to their respective cities.
Reports have already surfaced that the Bulls are the favorites to sign Anthony. Reports have suggested that Anthony has spoke with a few people about how good life can be in Chicago. Not only is Anthony doing his homework but the Bulls are doing something similar.
Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau has been enquiring about how coachable Anthony is by getting in contact with some of ‘Melo’s old coaches. Anthony joining the Bulls would turn them into an automatic title contender. Though for this to happen, the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and find a home for Mike Dunleavy Jr and possibly even Taj Gibson or Jimmy Butler.
A team consisting of former MVP Derrick Rose, current Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, and Carmel Anthony all under the defensive guru Tom Thibodeau would be a monster in the weak Eastern Conference.
The Knicks are in the midst of a change as they’ve recently hired Phil Jackson so oversee all basketball operations and his first act was hiring rookie head coach Derek Fisher. Jackson has hoped that ‘Melo would opt in to his contract and take a ‘wait and see’ approach to things. Jackson has pleaded with Anthony to give him a year to see how he can change the roster to highlight Anthony’s strengths and hide his weaknesses. Also Jackson implored Anthony to give new head coach Fisher a year to see if he can be as much of a leader from the sidelines as he was on the court.
Obviously the Knicks can offer more money than any other team, nearly $30 million more. However at this point in his career Anthony is all about winning. The Knicks had a dreadful season, though ‘Melo was fantastic. He worked his butt off all season long for that team but didn’t see much team success despite his individual brilliance.
Anthony has made it clear that he would be willing to take a pay cut in order to help the Knicks bring more players in to make the team competitive. To join the Miami Heat he would have to take a significant pay cut but the prospect of a ‘big 4’ may be too tempting to pass up. Though passing up 40-50 million dollars is not easy for any man, regardless how much he wants to win.
Carmelo Anthony’s decision to opt out shouldn’t surprise anyone as Anthony has expressed his desire to test free agency all year long. Nobody knows where Anthony will go and to be fair Carmelo probably doesn’t even know at this point.
One thing for certain however is that this is only the beginning of what should be massive free agency story. Teams will begin positioning themselves to make a run at Anthony and this means trades will be coming. There’s not many nights better than NBA draft night for a flood of trades to happen.
Aodán Mitchell, Pundit Arena.