There are a lot of questions and a lot of rumors flying around about what happens with Carmelo Anthony now that the Nets have pulled out of the running.
One of the theories: Anthony will play out his contract, opt out next summer and come to the Knicks as a free agent.
Not going to happen.
Okay, it’s not impossible, but it’s about as likely as Anthony going to the Clippers (the issue there isn’t the quality of offer, it’s Anthony agreeing to play for Donald Sterling, which he will not do).
The problem starts with a biggie — the Knicks can’t offer ‘Melo a max deal this summer. Zach Lowe broke it down simply and cleanly at Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward today.
Even if the Knicks renounce all their players on non-guaranteed deals and their outgoing free agents (including Wilson Chandler), they still have about $43.5 million in committed salary for next season. Toss in a set charge for their first-round pick (likely around $1.5 million) and roster charges for empty slots, and you’re up to nearly $46 million on the books for next season. The current salary cap is a shade over $58 million, meaning the Knicks, in this dream world, would not have enough room to sign Free Agent ‘Melo to anything close to what currently constitutes a maximum-level deal.
As Lowe notes, that is using the current salary cap and salary structure of the NBA. After the coming lockout, you can bet that if there is a salary cap it will be lower and the punishments for exceeding it will be harsher (the max deal money may be lower as well). The new CBA will make it harder to get Anthony even if the Knicks were able to dump the salaries of Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov on some unsuspecting soul.
Then there’s this little dilemma — Anthony has said multiple times he wants to sign an extension under the current CBA. As he should, I don’t care how much money you have you don’t leave $10 million or more on the table. Anthony might well decide he likes $10 million more than he likes New York and end up somewhere else. (No, still not the Clippers, stop it.)
The Knicks may have gotten new life with the Nets pulling out of the Anthony sweepstakes — if they really did pull out and this wasn’t a negotiating tactic — but they still need to find a way to come up with a trade the Nuggets like to make this a reality.