Phil Jackson clearly has more plans at work when it comes to building the New York Knicks into a championship contender, but those plans heavily relied on their superstar free agent Carmelo Anthony returning to the team. Jackson and Knicks fans can now rest a little easier now, knowing that Anthony has decided to stay and put his faith in the organization.
The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets were the most notable teams with the potential to claim Anthony, based on their talented rosters and ability to contend. When the fight for the superstar came down to salary, the Knicks stood alone in a favorable position.
The Knicks offered Anthony $129 million for a five-year contract, which was a solid offer, and one no other team could match. The Bulls’ and Rockets’ offer was based on how many role players they could get rid of to acquire Anthony. Not only would this put them at a disadvantage because they would be giving up a lot, but they would also be creating new teams around new and current stars. This would leave little salary for hopes of bringing in new role players to produce off the bench.
The Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs are perfect examples for having stars, but really finding success in the playoffs through the excellent play of role players. It seems to be a building trend that suits winning teams and the Knicks are most ready to do that.
The Knicks did not come with these problems. Anthony already has his feet dug into New York along with his family, which played a huge role in his decision. He has already played alongside of many of the current Knicks player so there is already a sense of familiarity on the court. Although there will be some changes and additions to the roster in the future, it’s still not as big of a transition as it would’ve been if he chose either the Rockets or Bulls.
Anthony is starting to see the big picture and realizes he has to make personal changes. He displayed that he is focused on becoming more team oriented, which goes beyond his play at Madison Square Garden. He did this through his decision to take a pay cut, which took his $129 million contract down to $124 million and gives the Knicks more flexibility to offer free agents for the oncoming years.
Jackson may deserve some credit for talking Anthony into the pay cut, not directly telling him to make the decision, but making great use of his rhetorical skills. Jackson has been known to give his players choices and have them lean towards choosing the most beneficial option for the team.
“If we’re still going to sit and rely on Carmelo to do everything and put that load on him, that’s not going to happen,” Jackson says pertaining to the Knicks old ways. Jackson is ready to see a more evolved player in Anthony and backtracking, on this their newly paved road to success; into bad habits is not an option.
Anthony’s actions exude his willingness to change in any way necessary to win a championship. He has done his part up to this point and the Knicks are starting to satisfy him from a head office standpoint. With the organization seeming to be in synchrony for the first time in a long time, I see only positive strides towards their future.
Free Agency Grade: A