To me this feels like the “Bart’s Inner Child” Simpsons episode where everyone in town starts emulating Bart.
In the role of self-help guru Brad Goodman we have LeBron James, who himself went through an over-hyped free agency period a few years back. You may remember that. It was a PR disaster but LeBron bounced back from it because he won on the court (this is America where winners write the history).
In the role of people seeking advice we have Carmelo Anthony (he’s not really seeking LeBron’s advice but reporters asked LeBron about it). In the Simpsons’ episode Goodman encouraged the entire town of Springfield to “do what they feel” and “be like the boy” Bart Simpson. That worked out about as well as you’d expect.
So what was LeBron’s advice for ‘Melo, who hits the market this summer? Do what you feel. Basically. That’s what he said, as Newsday reported.
“You got to do whatever makes you happy,” James said before Thursday night’s Knicks-Heat game at the Garden. “When you’re happy, the game of basketball is going to be fun for you. Strive to be great every day and live with whatever else happens. So we’ll see.”
So should ‘Melo consider leaving some money on the table?
“I recommend it to me,” James said. “It doesn’t work for everybody. The way I live my life don’t work for everybody. All I care about is winning. I came to Miami to win. Money didn’t make me happy. Winning made me happy, and it still does. That’s what matters to me.”
LeBron still makes a lot of money, for the record. His salary from the Heat is dwarfed by endorsement deals (which grew after he won titles).
The problem for the Knicks, or anyone picking up Anthony, is really this: At his max salary his next contract would start at $22.5 million and go up from there (only Kobe Bryant would make more). While ‘Melo can score you plenty of points, if the team wants to win with him as a key piece they will need a high quality ball handling guard who can get other guys easy buckets and create shots (essentially forcing Anthony to just be part of the offense, not all of it), plus you need some quality defenders around him. You can’t all get that from the free agent market with how much of the cap space Anthony would take up.
It’s not that you can’t win with ‘Melo, it’s that you can’t with him making that much money.
But LeBron is right, ‘Melo needs to do whatever makes him happy. Do what you feel.