When it came right down to it Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony wasn’t leaving close to $30 million on the table to chase a championship pipe dream. The Knicks franchise forward ended his free agent tour back at the same place he started - Madison Square Garden.
"After three months of questions around Carmelo Anthony's return to the New York Knicks we are now happy to know that we have the cornerstone of what we envision as a 'team of excellence,'" Knicks president Phil Jackson said in a statement. "... [Knicks general manager] Steve Mills and I have assured Carmelo through our conversations, that we share the vision and the determination to build this team."
Anthony and the Knicks had been in the final stages of negotiations since Saturday. Anthony was being courted by the Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavs, Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers. He chopped it up with each team last week.
There were rumors that as early as this past Friday he was seriously considered Chicago but the combination of a healthy pay cut and the uncertainty of Derrick Rose eventually made Carmelo’s decision to return much easier. ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting that the five-year deal will run in excess of $120 million with hopefully some relief in the second year to aid the Knicks in 2015 free agency.
Anthony also announced the deal via his personal website on Sunday afternoon.
"A few years ago I dreamed of coming back to New York City, the place of my birth, and on February 23, 2011 that became a reality," Anthony said in a statement. "This organization has supported me and in return, I want to stay and build here with this city and my team. At this pivotal juncture in my career, I owed it to myself and my family to explore all of the options available to me. Through it all, my heart never wavered."
"I will always remember this chapter in my life. In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart," he said in the statement. "I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world."
Phil Jackson’s presence obviously didn’t hurt the Knicks’ chances to re-sign the 2012 scoring champ, but Dolan’s wallet really spoke louder than anything else. Sure, Melo wants to win, but after surveying the NBA’s landscape, he realizes that he has just as good a chance to do it with the Knicks.
I still think LBJ controls the dice board. Wherever he goes, an NBA Finals trip will follow. Balling with No.1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins, Kyrie Irving and those cats should be a thrill for NBA fans to watch. Melo has to wait another season to see if Phil can convince another Hall of Famer to finally come anchor and assist Anthony's drive to the top, but his inability to set up his own Big Three, eventually made choosing between the bundle of chips NY can throw him and the less money he’d have to take to play with another team, a no brainer.
Like most superstars, Melo definitely smells himself. He got to jet set around the country, ducking from paparazzi and media vultures and looking cooler than Kojak with a toothpick in his mouth and a smirk on his face as TV cameras blew kisses at The Don. This is what he wanted all along; a little appreciation for his services and devalued HOF career. Soon to be 30, Melo is entering his prime. In five short years, he will be considered on the decline. The time is yesterday to make a serious run at a title. In the words of ONXY: “It’s time to get live, live...live like a wire.”
This might all work out for Melo. When the Knicks get rid of Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani and all of the other albatross contracts that haunt NY fans, maybe Phil “The Thrill” Jackson will work his Zen Master madness to perfection and another Top 5-Top 10 player will finally come play with Melo. Maybe the Knicks will be genuine contenders in a few years. Only a Knicks hater who wants them to remain a struggling franchise will count out an 11-time NBA championship coach with a shrewd basketball noggin and full run of the organization.
And if Phil’s Knicks never reach that goal, why should any Knicks fan sweat it? Carmelo Anthony surely isn’t pressed to snatch that shiny ball. His actions over the past few years suggests that he’s more about the bling than the ring. If he’s never going to be an NBA champion like his man LeBron, he’s at least going to be “King of Coin” and by re-signing with the Knicks he’s assured that La La and The Kardashians can still go swipe for swipe at Brunello Cucinelli in New York City. That is what's important right?
If Melo leaves New York ringless, at least he accomplished something historical. Too bad it didn’t have to do with basketball. Very little of his life's had anything to do with basketball since the word "free agent" popped into the picture. Actually, his life should be a movie because he’s still living just enough for the cameras and not enough for The City.