For better or for worse the Knicks have their man.
Carmelo Anthony is coming back to the Garden in 2014-15, after inking a five year deal worth $124 million, some five million dollars less than the maximum he could have made if he put the Knicks feet to the fire.
Anthony's motive is clear, he wants the Knicks to go out and get him some help. It has not been easy, nor fun for the All Star to play basically by himself, surrounded by a hobbled Amare' Stoudemire, or fellow ball-hog extraordinaire, J.R. Smith.
Anthony put all the pressure on himself the past few years, and if Phil Jackson's assumptions are correct, that is part of the reason why Anthony has played so poorly in crunch time.
"“It depends how quickly our team evolves,’’ Jackson said of how soon the
club will be in title contention. “If we evolve as a team, we can do it
rather quickly. If we’re still going to sit and rely on Carmelo to do
everything, it’s not going to happen," (NY Post 7/13/14).
So Anthony "buying in" to this new strategy will make the max annual salary this season at $22 million, but will see his annual salary decrease 7.5 percent in 2015-16, the year that a new salary cap is instituted, and potentially the year Phil Jackson gets more pieces for the puzzle.
There is a chance that come 2015-16 the likes of Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert, Kevin Love, and even LeBron James (more on that in the next post), could all be potential free agents. Granted the Knicks have a lot of cap maneuvering to do between now and then. Technically they are still in salary cap Hell from some bad contracts.
However here is the good part of this deal. 1) Anthony has committed to the Knicks. Instead of taking less and running to a much better situation in Chicago, Anthony bought into the rhetoric of the Zen Master, and will do as he sees fit. Anthony has nothing to lose. 2) He's been a playoff loser his entire career. Now he has a man running the ship that won NBA titles with Jordan, Kobe and Shaq. Anthony would love to join those names one day.
The bad part: If Anthony continues to choke in big situations, and the Knicks do not improve in a few years, then he could opt out after his fourth year; but that is a big IF. I highly doubt, unless James Dolan gets in the way, that Phil Jackson will let the Knicks remain a virtual irrelevancy in this city.
However do not expect the Knicks to make any more big moves this summer. This is a transition year, inspite of what coach Derek Fisher says. Jackson is going to play his cards close to vest, give him credit. And if Anthony changes as a player and becomes a better teammate than all the better for the Knicks moving forward.