Written by Nicholas McGowan
The Melo Situation
The countdown of when we as Knicks fans and the world for that matter, will know the future of Carmelo Anthony has started. Melo has the option to opt in for another year in New York and then make up his mind next summer or he can opt out, choose a new team, or opt out in order to solidly a max contract with the Knicks. We as fans hope that if he does opt out, that it is because he will sign the max deal. Yet with the sudden shoulder injury this might further Melo’s thinking in one way or the other, it may make him lean towards locking up a max contract or it might drive him in the opposite direction. He may try now to win as soon as possible knowing that he will still get tens of millions of dollars guaranteed even though it may be 30 million less than what the Knicks can offer. Melo might have also learned that he needs another superstar, someone who can carry the load so that he does not take such a toll on his body for another season. Both of those seem to be the better option than a max deal, and while it depends on Melo’s priorities, (30 million or a legitimate chance at one or more titles), most would choose the titles. Not saying that I would pass up 30 million but if you were Melo and have already made as much as he has, winning would be the one knock against me. Let’s take a look at the possible championship scenarios for Melo.
Beginning with the Knicks, there is a real possibility that they can compete for championship, not next year but in two years. In two years the Knicks have cap space and a first round draft pick that will probability end up be a lottery pick. Going into the 2015-2016 season we would only have J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Hardaway Jr, Shumpert, and Pablo Prigioni on our roster. Now lets say Melo decides to resign, add Melo to that roster, add another superstar player or two to that mix. Then add on top of that a top 14 draft pick, this would make us a frontrunner for the title, we would be able to come close to beating the Heat (assuming their current roster does not change drastically) or perhaps even beat them if we add the right free agents. In the already weak Eastern Conference, we would be the second best team. I would put us ahead of both Indiana and Chicago because we have the superior superstar talent. The Nets at this point would have lost Garnett and Pierce and would not be the team they are today. By looking the 2015 free agents there are tons of options that would make us better than the Heat. Those free agents include:
Kevin Love (p)
Al Jefferson (p)
Jeff Green (p)
Brook Lopez (p)
Monta Ellis (p)
Roy Hibbert (p)
Kevin Love (p)
Goran Dragic (p)
Aaron Afflalo (p)
David West (p)
While we cannot assume all of them would opt of their player options that year, we can assume that most of them will, in order to get more money. We can offer that money. We will at least get one of those free agents, and getting two of them would make us a championship contender. Getting only one makes us a good team, a team good enough to get to the second or third round of the playoffs but never good enough to win a championship. This gives a decent grade when looking at our ability to win, and in the eyes of Melo, we should receive a B+. The bad part is that there is no guarantee that we acquire two of those free agents and the fact that Melo has to waste another year of his career. That might not be something he wants to do.
It’s not terrible though if Melo leaves, we would basically be guaranteed a top 10 pick, and have even more money at our disposal. Next year is lost no matter what but there is light at the end of the tunnel no matter what Melo does.
Let’s move on to the other teams that have a chance of landing Melo this offseason. I will discount the Lakers, for the fact that I do not believe they can come out of the Western Conference on top even with Melo. The other top teams that might end up with Melo are Chicago and Houston. Both of those teams have the same problem though, cap space this year would be hard to find. Chicago would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and trade Taj Gibson, a simpler task than that of Houston who would have to find a trade partner for Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
Starting with Chicago, lets assume they can trade Gibson and they get rid of Boozer. Only question remains, Derrick Rose. His health is the biggest question mark, a healthy Derrick Rose would make Chicago the best landing spot for Melo yet Rose is a huge question mark. A line up of Rose, Augustin/Hinrich/Dunleavy, Butler, Melo, and Noah would easily make Chicago a championship contender. Chicago receives a grade a B/A+. They get a B if Rose is hurt constantly, an A+ if Rose is healthy. Melo might consider to opt in for this year and then see how Rose plays next year. If Rose is healthy then Melo might jump ship in the summer of 2015 if he feels Phil Jackson makes a bad decision.
It’s hard to assume that Houston can get rid of the contracts both Lin and Asik, seeing as they are both scheduled to make around 10 million next year. Yet if they can, Melo would make them the favorite to make it out West and probably the favorite to win the championship. Houston in order to facilitate Melo might have to work out a sign and trade with the Knicks. This might be the best case for the Knicks, as they would receive not only Lin and Asik, but at least one first round draft pick. A great haul if Melo does decide to leave. The Rockets receive an A-. Getting rid the contracts is hard but if they are willing to part with multiple draft picks then Knicks cannot pass up the opportunity to make the trade.
No matter what Melo does the summer of 2015 is the most important. We need to make right moves in order to lure other free agents. Phil Jackson better outline a great plan to Melo this offseason because if Melo is willing to leave Phil what would that say to free agents down the road?