All eyes appear to be on Carmelo Anthony of late as he grows to be one of the hottest commodities this upcoming offseason.
While Carmelo is under contract with the Knicks through next season, next year’s salary is an early termination option which Carmelo has already expressed he plans to exercise this summer. In February, the Knicks could negotiate to extend Carmelo’s contract but Carmelo asked the Knicks on the first day of training camp to not discuss an extension. In November, Carmelo backed down from his previous statements and said he hopes to retire with the Knicks. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith contradicted that statement this week reporting Anthony had already decided to leave New York. Carmelo adamantly denied that report.
Contradicting reports leave Anthony’s future uncertain but ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst says Carmelo’s past actions show he is in New York to stay. Windhorst points out that Carmelo has approached his NBA career with the mindset to look out for himself first and capture as much money as he can during his short career.
In 2006, Anthony refused to gamble $20MM in guaranteed money and took a five-year max salary deal instead of the three year extension LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh took. Before that contract expired, Carmelo demanded a trade to the team he wanted to play for the following year as a free agent. Being traded to the Knicks allowed Anthony to sign a more favorable extension than he would have received in free agency. And again, at the beginning of this season, Carmelo said he will exercise his early termination option to become a free agent. Another move that will bring Anthony more money.
This favors the Knicks as they will be able to re-sign Carmelo for an extra year and $30MM more than any other team in the league. If Anthony continues to make his decisions based on money – New York is where he will retire.
That is, unless he demands to be traded this season or to be signed and traded next offseason. Sam Smith of Bulls.com thinks Knicks fans shouldn’t worry about these options.
Smith says the Knicks are very unlikely to trade him this season because they know how much Carmelo values the extra year and $30MM. Carmelo will be 34 at the end of his next contract so he and the Knicks realize this is likely his last chance to capture a max deal. The Knicks think this motivation will force Carmelo to re-sign with them this offseason.
The Knicks are also unlikely to complete a sign-and-trade since Carmelo’s bargaining power appears weak. Carmelo can’t threaten to sign with another team in free agency for less money when his track record shows otherwise and another contract beyond this one doesn’t appear imminent. Windhorst also points out that the Knicks dug quite a deep hole to obtain Anthony and no fair value will be available for the Knicks to get in return via trade.