Carmelo Anthony & The Money Over Winning Narrative

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    Updated: July 14, 2014
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    Carmelo Anthony has officially re-signed with the New York Knicks for a max contract of 5 years $120+ million dollars. The basketball world has been over Anthony and what he should do at this juncture in his career. It’s funny that a bunch people who may not ever get the chance to earn that amazing amount of money can say a player should turn it down in-order for him to win. There are people who feel Melo should have taken less money and went to a team like the Chicago Bulls which would have made his championship aspects a reality, and of course there are those who feel no player should ever leave money on the table if there is even the slightest possibility their current team can compete. I can see both sides of the argument. But question is, did Carmelo Anthony make a bad basketball decision and a savvy business decision, or in truth did he accomplish both?

     

    Money, The Be All End All?…

     

    I’m not quite sure what Melo’s offer from the Bulls would have been, but from my understanding if Melo had chosen the Chicago Bulls he would have left about $50 million dollars behind to try and compete for a ring. I’m not an accountant, nor am I a banker or financial wiz kid, but $50 million is a lot of money. And no matter how you slice it Melo was taking a risk on the both the teams, it was just less of a financial risk staying with the Knicks. By pure basketball standards the better option for Carmelo Anthony would have been the Bulls with or without Derrick Rose. The Bulls still made to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference averaging the lowest points per game in the entire Association. That’s just a testament to how good a coach Tom Thibodeau is.

    The one thing the Bulls need more than anything is a scorer. And Anthony is a significant upgrade over Luol Deng in that department. The Bulls would have had to Amnesty Carlos Boozer to make this happen but they would essentially have replaced Boozers 14 points and 8 rebounds with Carmelo’s 27 points and 8 rebounds. That’s definitely and upgrade. Melo would also have been playing with the reigning defense player of the year in Joakim Noah who has a great passing touch for a big man. Melo and Noah at 4 and 5 would have been a match-up nightmare for a lot of opposing bigs. Add in great role-players like Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson (had they been able to keep him), the rookie shooter Doug McDermott who is going to be a nice addition off the bench, and Tom Thibodeau’s stifling defense, and the Bulls would have all the pieces necessary to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. But just getting deep into the playoffs is not good enough.

    Melo needs a ring. And the team I just described would be good, but I don’t believe good enough to beat the best teams in the Western Conference without the services of former MVP Derrick Rose. A Bulls team with a healthy Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony would be the favorites to win the title in my opinion. Even with how insane the San Antonio Spurs have been the last 15+ years; the Bulls would have a lot of talented players being coached by an excellent motivator and defensive tactician. But Rose has been out for the better part of two years and although it’s been said he has looked great during his workouts this off-season, that means nothing until he actually gets on the court for a sustained amount of time and performs during an NBA season.

    That wildcard of Rose’s health should have been enough to give anyone pause. Without Rose the Bulls were not winning a championship. With a 2011 version of Rose and the current Carmelo Anthony they would have been in the running. Would anyone leave $50 million on the table on the hopes someone else’s health will hold up? If you say yes then you’re either a Bulls fan or a better man than me; because that’s not a smart gamble.

    Now, if Rose comes back healthy and the addition of Pau Gasol to the Bulls pushes them over the top, then Melo would have made the wrong basketball decision. But no one knows the future and taking that risk hoping Derrick Rose would come back as good as before would have been foolish. So I can see why Melo would decline coming to Chicago and staying in New York. But now that he is back, does this mean he’s not about winning? Not necessarily but he’s putting a lot of faith in a certain unproven NBA executive.

     

    Phil Jackson Has To Show And Prove…

     

    Now that Melo is back, he’s expecting Phil Jackson to put a team around him that will compete for the next five seasons. Phil has already started working his magic by getting Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler off the books in return for Shane Larkin, Samuel Dalembert, Jose Calderon and a second round draft pick that turned into Cleanthony Early. I don’t know anything about Early, but from what a lot of college basketball fans tell me, the Knicks got the steal of the draft. That’s still not enough to do anything of substance as long as Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are clogging up salary cap space.

    There have been rumors that Jackson was trying to trade Amare to the Philadelphia 76ers, meaning he could bring in some help for Melo immediately. But that’s left to be seen. But Amare’s contract can become a very valuable expiring contract trade option for teams during the season so holding to Amare’s contract right now isn’t a terrible idea. Especially if the idea is to be ready for the 2015 major free agent summer that’s coming.

    There’s only one problem, that 2015 Free Agent class we keep hearing about, it might be pretty dried up well before 2015. The big names in next summer’s free agency are Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Marc Gasol. Kevin Love may get traded at some point this season to a number of different teams because the Minnesota

    Courtesy of msn.foxsports.com 

    Timberwolves won’t allow him to leave for free in the summer. The Timberwolves will want something good in return for trading Love, and the Cleveland Cavaliers may try to make a move for him. Other teams like the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics can offer really good packages for Love as well. Love does hold the power because he can tell any team that trades for him that he won’t re-sign for them. I’m not sure how many teams are willing to risk players and coveted draft picks on the hope Love will re-sign with them knowing he can bolt after the season is over. So Love will likely get traded to a team that he want to stay with long term, and he’s already said the idea of linking up with Lebron in Cleveland intrigues him.

    Lemarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol have both said they will be re-signing with their respective teams at the end of the season. Of course anything can happen between now and then, but I don’t see either man leaving two contenders and max money on the table. Gasol says he loves it in Memphis, and Aldridge has grown into an amazing player in Portland. And with Gasol the Grizzlies will have his Bird Rights meaning they can offer him the most money possible. But nothing is concrete until Gasol and Aldridge sign on the dotted line with their current teams. And as we’ve seen from other free agents, players enjoy being courted.

    That leaves the curious case of Rajon Rondo. Rondo seems to always be trade bait for the Boston Celtics and the Celtics and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The Celtics can do two things: They can try to trade for Kevin Love with their assets and pair Love with Rondo and give both players the max money, or they can trade Rondo to another team and receive even more assets and continue to rebuild this team into a power houses by using all their draft picks and cap space.

    If the Knicks don’t trade Amare Stoudamire now, maybe by the trade deadline they make a deal with the Celtics to offload Amare’s expiring contract and a draft pick for Rajon Rondo then give Rondo big money? I seems like it could work on the surface. But is Rondo worth a draft pick and max money? Depends. He’s still only 28 years old but he did come off of a major knee injury. And would a team with Melo and Rondo really push the Knicks over the top in the Eastern Conference? If other really good complimentary pieces were added then I think a tandem of Rondo and Melo would be formidable.

    But the Celtics may get an offer this summer they can’t refuse for Rondo, and if so, that essentially takes away most of the big name players in the 2015 Free Agency class. I think three of them (Love, Gasol, Aldridge) will be definitely be off the table before the summer of 2015, and Rondo being the wildcard that may still be available. There are other free agents available in 2015 but no one that can match the caliber of those four players. But none of this is Carmelo Anthony’s problem. He came back to the franchise to be their star player, and it’s up to Phil Jackson to acquire players and make the Knicks a contender. Melo did his part so now Phil has to do his. 

    I am friends win a lot of Knicks fans and it’s about half and half right on their love for Melo. Some are indifferent to his return; while others are ecstatic he’s back with the franchise. But I believe that if the Bulls had a healthy Derrick Rose, then Melo would have bolted for Chicago. But make of that what you will. The Knicks have their star player, and have to build around him in order to bring title hopes back to Madison Square Garden. Let’s see if Phil Jackson can be the off-court architect of Championships like he was on the court coaching. This should be interesting to watch.

    Follow @LSN_Frantz on Twitter

     

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