According to reports, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony still intends on opting out of his contract later this month in order to test free agency on July 1st. This comes as no surprise, but nevertheless the decision will disappoint Phil Jackson who met with Carmelo at the end of the season and asked him to consider opting in for one more year while the Knicks regroup for the summer of 2015.
Carmelo has until June 23rd to exercise a $22.3 million option for next season, but all indications are that’s not in his plans. There were rumblings this week about the potential formation of The Big Four in Miami, which would require Melo to take a significant pay cut in order to join LeBron, Wade and Bosh in South Beach. This is definitely one possibility once he hits free agency, but Carmelo could also consider other suitors such as Chicago or Houston, who could maneuver their way to create the available cap room to sign the 30 year old superstar.
The entire idea of opting in for one more season while waiting for the contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani to come off the books next summer never made any sense for Carmelo. In essence, he would be committing to another year of rebuilding, with no assurances the Knicks would be able to have a swift turnaround through free agency next summer. Even if Phil Jackson was able to attract a few high end free agents in 2015, Carmelo would be taking the risk of starting with another new core of the team as he approaches 32 years old, which is hard to ask for a player who has made it to just one Conference Finals in his career and coming off a season in which the Knicks missed the playoffs entirely.
This latest news that he is opting out doesn’t necessarily mean the Knicks’ chances of retaining Carmelo have been lowered, since he was headed to free agency all along. The talk about going to Miami is not far fetched, but it would also require a lot of sacrifice from four of the top players in this league. But if Carmelo surveys the market and wants to win immediately, it would be very difficult to make the case that he has any reason to stay with the Knicks.
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