After another devastating loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, Knicks fans are left wondering what happened to the team they grew to love last season. From buzzer beaters to air balls, big wins to huge losses, the Knicks have failed to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. With a total of only 28 losses last season, the Knicks were looking to contend for a championship this year. Unfortunately, they have failed to live up to expectations, with 33 losses in only 53 games.
In the midst of this dreadful season, and to the dismay of most Knicks fans, Carmelo Anthony has openly said he will be opting out of the last year on his contract after this season. Anthony, who will turn 30 in three months, has claimed that he wants to test free agency, but that does not necessarily mean he is leaving New York.
By opting out of the last year of his contract, Melo will turn down being paid $23.3 million next season. However, if Anthony chooses to re-sign with the Knicks, his contract could be worth $129 million over five years.
If he decides to leave New York, under the current rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the maximum contract he could be offered is $96 million over four years.
Carmelo claims the money has nothing to do with his decision.
“As far as the money, it don’t really matter to me,” Anthony said. “If I go somewhere else, I get paid. If I stay in New York, I get paid. As far as the money goes, it’s not my concern.”
Melo has even mentioned that he is willing to take a pay cut in his upcoming contract, if it can help bring in a better supporting cast.
“If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first person to say, ‘Take my money.’”
Unfortunately, that notion cannot help the Knicks this upcoming off-season. With the huge contracts of Stoudemire ($23.4 mil), Chandler ($14.6 mil) and Bargnani ($11.5 mil), the Knicks will not be contenders for any big name free agents this summer. That means the core of their team is together for at least another season, one that lacks the talent Carmelo is looking for.
Carmelo has always maintained that he wants to win in New York and retire as a Knick, but that is not his primary concern. Melo’s mindset going into this summer is plain and simple; he wants to contend for a championship.
The question is, can he content with the Knicks? Right now, the answer is no. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers have significantly more talent and depth than the Knicks, and Carmelo knows he needs help if he ever plans on dethroning the King.
So what can he do? It starts with a pay cut. Melo needs to accept a deal below the max of $129 million. This will open up more cap space for the Knicks to spend on free agents in the summer of 2015, which seems to be Melo’s intentions.
“I have a chance to attract some people to come to New York,” Anthony said on SportsCenter. “I think playing in New York — and everybody saw this last year, how electrified that city was. The organization, the team, how much fun we had as a team when we was playing good basketball. So I want to kind of bring that back to New York. And if I can become a free agent to make that happen, then I want to do that.”
So whom may the Knicks look to add? At this moment, there are big name players at every position set to be free agents in 2015. There has been speculation that the Knicks plan on chasing Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, both of which will become unrestricted free agents and are expected to leave their current teams.
But who else should the Knicks think about signing?
Long time Spurs floor general, Tony Parker, is set to be a unrestricted free agent in 2015. The Knicks have lacked a star point guard in recent memory, and Knicks fans are desperate to have a true point guard. Parker is a proven winner, and could add veteran leadership and a winning presence to the Knicks.
Both of Indiana’s star big men, Roy Hibbert and David West, are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015. Both big men are key to defeating the Miami Heat, and if teamed up with Melo, would contend with any team in the league.
The Knicks could also look to the restricted free agents. Young, promising guards Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and Ricky Rubio will be restricted in 2015, and the Knicks may look to make a deal with any of the four. (Rubio especially if they sign Love.)
Kenneth Faried, who has been in trade rumors with the Knicks for quite so time now, will also be a restricted free agent in 2015. It would not be surprising if the Knicks make a play on Faried, as the Knicks management loves his hustle and competitiveness.
The Knicks upper management is going to have to sell Carmelo on a deep playoff run in the next five seasons. If Melo does not foresee a turn around in the Knicks near future, New York will be looking for a new superstar.
However, if Carmelo does re-sign, Knicks fans should be counting down the days until the summer of 2015.