I’ve been pretty adamant about not caring whether Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the Knicks or not. It had nothing to do with the player. Maybe it was the sting from 2010 disallowing me to get too hyped up about another free agent failure, but the way I saw it, the Knicks were going to have to rebuild, whether Melo was a part of it or not. Now that he’s back, that process will be complete sooner than anybody thought.
Anthony committed to signing a five-year deal worth at least $122 million. After Phil Jackson constantly dared him through the media to take a less-than-max deal, the Knicks offered him the full $129 million anyway. Anthony wound up taking “only” $122 million, meaning Anthony can technically say that he took less money and Jackson can say that he convinced Melo to take a pay cut. In the end, everyone wins.
Sure, it would have made Phil’s job much easier to have a superstar make less-than-superstar money, but the cash was New York’s major selling point. The deal might be a bit “taxing” (only for Dolan!) when the Knicks are trying to make future signings, but without Melo, a lot of those signees wouldn’t want to come here. If they didn’t fork over the money, they wouldn’t have Carmelo Anthony. It’s as simple as that.
The only thing that concerns me about the deal is the last couple seasons of it, when Anthony will be 34 years old. Melo’s post game and ability to get to the free throw line will allow him to continue his success as he ages, but he’ll need to stay healthy. Melo has ended his seasons with injuries the last two years, and his bulldog, get-out-of-my-way style might not be able to last for the whole run. Still, as long as Derek Fisher does away with Mike Woodson’s philosophy of playing him for close to 40 minutes a night while having him guard some of the most grueling players in the league on the block, Melo should be able to survive.
When the Knicks traded away Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, it gave the impression that a major rebuild was on the way. With Anthony back in place, things don’t have to be so cut and dry. It won’t be easy to acquire Kevin Love or Rajon Rondo, both of who won’t come anywhere near free agency, but with one superstar locked in for half of a decade, it’s definitely an avenue the organization will have to pursue. The Knicks shouldn’t be actively shopping their youngsters, but if the right deal turns up, they shouldn’t be totally against it either.
Still, it’s important for Phil to hang on to his young assets and attempt to build something that will last more than a few glorious years. This season will be a huge one in terms of development for Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. Both have shown tremendous signs of potential in their young careers, but keep in mind that guys like Landry Fields have done so in the recent past as well. It’s a tricky situation for Jackson.
Unless New York wants to give up some youth, they’re probably done for the summer. Barring some minor moves, their current roster is probably what they’ll be heading into training camp with. It’s hard to say the Knicks are back because I’m not sure they were ever here, but getting Melo to re-sign means thing should be much smoother from here on out.
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