Carmelo Anthony’s Dilemma: Win Or Get Paid?

Carmelo Anthony is facing a critical choice in his career that will ultimately determine how he will be known for the rest of his basketball life. Will Carmelo be a winner with a championship ring or will he be a rich player known for being on mediocre teams? It seems that for Anthony, there might not be much middle ground.

The beginning of Anthony’s tenure with the New York Knicks started with promise, but this season has been a major disappointment in almost every way. In fact, it’s been so much of a disappointment that Carmelo has been pretty vocal in calling out the sloppy play of his teammates. Anthony has even gone so far to say that the Knicks are the “laughingstock” of the NBA.

According to many reports, Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Knicks when this season ends. This is where the intrigue begins. Carmelo has said that he would like to stay a Knick and would even be willing to take less money under his new contract if the Knicks were able to put players in place to build a contender around him. Here’s what Anthony told ESPN in a recent interview:

“I have the chance to attract some people to come to New York. Everybody saw this last year, how electrified that city was. I kind of want to bring that back. If I can become a free agent to make that happen, then I want to do that.”

Big talk from the Carmelo for sure, but when push comes to shove, would Anthony be able to turn down millions of dollars to try to make the Knicks a contender? And even if he did want to make the Knicks competitive again, does Carmelo have enough faith that front-office staff would make that happen? If reports that Phil Jackson may come to the team are true, this could have quite a bit of sway with Anthony.

Carmelo is scheduled to make $23.3 million next year if he stays in his current contract, and then would become a free agent following the 2014-2015 season. However, if Carmelo wants to win now and if he wants to win on the Knicks, the team is going to need cap space to be able to pay complementary players.

Perhaps Anthony realizes that there are a handful of teams — including the Los Angeles Lakers — who will have at least $15 million of cap space this year to pay him, albeit less than what he would have made in New York. For Carmelo, it will all come down to this — take less money and potentially play with someone like Kobe Bryant or stay with the Knicks and cash in, but run the risk of being on a mediocre team perhaps for the rest of his career. Right now, perhaps not even Carmelo Anthony knows for sure what he will decide.

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