Now that the New York Knicks have officially announced the hiring of Phil Jackson, people seem to feel comfortable assuming that Carmelo Anthony is not going anywhere. That simply is not a foregone conclusion.
The Knicks are in bad shape financially. They have very little cap space available heading into next season, and signing Anthony (if and when he opts out of his current deal) plus another top-tier free agent would be an incredibly difficult task. The 2013-2014 Knicks are 27-40 and could miss the playoffs. Would Carmelo stick around simply because Jackson is now pulling the strings?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, sources with “direct knowledge” of Carmelo’s plans claim his top choices when he becomes a free agent this offseason will be the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. Anthony has said he would take a pay cut to remain with the Knicks, but that seems like a lousy idea given the current state of the team.
“He’ll give New York every option,” the source reportedly told Wojnarowski. “But he has options – and he’s going to explore them all.”
The Bulls and Rockets are already much better teams than the Knicks. Joakim Noah has reportedly been recruiting Anthony to come to Chicago, and the Bulls can afford it. The Rockets think they can, too. The prospect of teaming with either Noah and Derrick Rose or Dwight Howard and James Harden is much more intriguing than anything the Knicks can offer.
Phil Jackson is not a magician. He’s won a ton of championships, but you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s—. It could take the Zen Master a while to get the Knicks back on track, and there’s also a chance that he might prefer to move on without Anthony. At this point, I’d be more surprised to see Anthony in New York next year than I would be to see him elsewhere.