What to do? Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to opt out, weighs his options

By Clifford Davis

Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out of his contract by the June 23rd deadline. He’s never had the opportunity to be wined and dined as a free agent, which is something he said he was looking forward to doing back in October.

There are suitors for Carmelo Anthony but no one is the clear cut favorite. He has made it clear that his desire has been to win a championship, he doesn’t want to hear about waiting until 2015-2016, which is something New York Knicks president Phil Jackson has been talking about.

There are multiple rumors about who are the favorites to land him, the Bulls and Heat have been the most common names out there, but the Knicks can offer Anthony the most money, five years at $129 million dollars, while Chicago offers him a chance at competing for a championship right now, with an already established coach in Tom Thibodeau.

Then there is the Miami Heat. The Heat have been rumored to want to add Carmelo to their “big three”, of Wade, Chris Bosh, and Lebron James. It is a long shot for Carmelo to sign with Miami, but if the Heat can clear enough cap space to become enticing, Miami is easily the best choice for Anthony. The opportunity to play alongside a championship team, and not to mention, the best basketball player on the planet in Lebron James.

Pat Riley all but ruled out trying to sign Carmelo Anthony, calling it a “pipe dream.” Indeed, many things will have to fall in place in order for Carmelo to end up in Miami, however, there was a time four years ago when everyone believed Bosh, Wade, and James signing with Miami was a pipe dream, and how did that work out?

Chicago seems to be the biggest threat to stealing Carmelo Anthony away from the New York Knicks, with their roster, and also Anthony’s admiration for their head coach, Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls also will need to make moves to get under the salary cap in order to afford Anthony. It is said Chicago will aggressively pursue Anthony and do whatever it takes to have enough money to sign him.

The Knicks can offer the most money for Carmelo, but that is it. They will be returning the same core from last year that didn’t have a good enough team to crack the top 8 in the weak Eastern Conference, they have a rookie head coach in Derek Fisher who has never coached before, and then there is Phil Jackson running basketball operations for the first time in his career. There is a lot of uncertainty around the Knicks, who are waiting for next year, when they have contracts coming off the books, so they can be major players in free agency.

Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and Derek Fisher met with Anthony last week in Los Angeles, and Carmelo said of the meeting, “it was a great meeting with Phil, it went well.” He also stated he “likes what Phil is doing.” Those statements sound good, but will it be a factor when Carmelo is talking to other clubs who can offer him the opportunity to win the NBA championship he so badly covets? Or will the five year $129 million dollar contract the Knicks have to offer be enough to persuade him to wait until next season, when the Knicks can get him some more help to realistically compete for a championship?

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