Should Carmelo Anthony Wait Until 2015 to be a Free Agent?


Feb 22, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and point guard Jason Kidd (5) against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been made of the Lakers cap space next year and their hope to sign both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to team up with Kobe Bryant’s good achilles tendon. This would come as a bit of a shock to Knicks fans considering Anthony hijacked not only Denver’s season but the Knicks season as well when he demanded a trade here a few years ago.

What if he doesn’t opt out though? What if Anthony opts to stay one more year under contract and then wait it out one more year? What then? Would that help the Knicks or make Carmelo more anxious to leave if things don’t improve? Let’s find out.

First off, Anthony has a player option for $23.5 million. So it’s not as if he would be opting out of pocket change to finally get a pay day. In fact considering the new CBA lowered potential max contracts that may be the highest annual salary he gets in 2015 in any scenario.

Aside from the one year annual salary though, considering that James Dolan has an infatuation with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are poorly constructed outside of him and a few other guys, Anthony would still have the Knicks over a barrel in free agency. Unless he pulls a Vince Carter and stops trying it is very likely he will get the same max offer from the Knicks in 2015 as he will in 2014.

So if the money from the Knicks is the same what are some reasons to opt in for 2015? Well after that season, Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony, will come off the books. This lowers the Knicks salary cap number to a little over $6 million with potential to go lower since Pablo Prigioni’s money is non-guaranteed (Raymond Felton also has a player option that year but the idea of him opting out is just a pipe dream at this point).

Even if the Knicks add the $20.5 million annual salary that Anthony may get that leaves them with more than enough room to sign another max and add a valuable role player. Some potential free agents that could help the Knicks include: Rajon Rondo, Goran Dragic, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Marc Gasol.

If the Knicks were able to fit in two of these players with their remaining cap space (which could be over $30 million) it would allow the Knicks to get much younger and better at the same time. If Anthony chooses to opt out next year the Knicks would be right at the cap and basically could only re-sign him as far as acquiring impact players go.

They would be eligible for a sign and trade but those are difficult to pull off, even more so in the new CBA. The key here is also that Anthony can opt to take a little less money on his next contract to help the Knicks offer more lucrative contracts to free agents to come join him. It would be much easier to convince him to do this when those players are actually free agents rather than saying in a year from now these players may or may not be available so please take less money.

While it is true the Knicks could still have a lot of cap space in 2015 if Anthony opts out and comes back next year, opting out next year could signify a desire to leave. It is likely that Anthony and his people understand all of the different scenarios that can play out with him and free agency and that next year is his best chance to team up with buddies LeBron, Kobe, or even both if they all go to the Lakers.

Couple this reality with the statement many are reporting Anthony made at a basketball clinic this weekend that his “window is closing” to bring a title to New York and maybe opting out next year really is a cause of concern for Knicks fans. Then again a year is an eternity in basketball so things can drastically change between now and next July.