Carmelo Anthony has been clear from the start — he is opting out of his contract with the New York Knicks this summer. He is not opting in as Phil Jackson had hoped, he is going to test the free agent waters and talk to multiple teams.
According to a source close to president Phil Jackson, “The meeting went well — [Anthony] will still most likely opt out — but all in all, a good meeting.’’
What the Knicks know, and what the report goes on to say, is that the Rockets and Bulls have a lot of work to do to be able to offer Anthony a big contract.
The Rockets could go near a max deal if they could move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin and get no salary in return, then move Terrence Jones and let Chandler Parsons walk. Of course, then you have a big three (with two who are not great defenders) and not much else in a deep Western Conference. You can retain some of those role players if Anthony takes less money.
Chicago can’t get to a max, but they can get to a good number if they amnesty Carlos Boozer (which is expected to happen anyway), trade Mike Dunleavy for a pick and maybe Jimmy Butler as well. To really get to the highest numbers would require trading Taj Gibson, but that blows the plan — Carmelo with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson up front in a rotation, led by Derrick Rose at the point. There ‘Melo is betting on Rose’s knee.
Both of those teams could talk sign-and-trade with the Knicks as well. The Bulls have the 16 and 19 picks in the upcoming draft, for a rebuilding Knicks team young players like that matter, and it could help with the cap issues. There are ways to get a deal done.
The bottom line for Anthony remains what PBT has talked about from the start:
If Anthony is willing to take a healthy pay cut, down will below $20 million a year, and is willing to not be “the man” on another team, he has real options to be on a contender next year.
If the money, being in New York, and more importantly having a team built around him is what matters most, he stays. The question is what does he really want? It sounds more and more like he wants to try to win elsewhere, but the Knicks are in the mix. We will find out in less than a month.