New York Knicks superstar forward Carmelo Anthony will become a free agent in a couple of months, and according to the Sporting News, Melo wants NBA teams to grovel at his feet the way they did for Dwight Howard last summer:
“He wants to be in a situation where he can start winning, and he is going to look at teams based on that,” the source said. “Coaching is only a part of the equation. What they do now is not going to be as important as can they win?”
Free agency opens on July 1, and, the source said, Anthony would like, “the Dwight Howard treatment.” That means he wants to go through the same sort of process that Howard went through last summer, when Howard set up shop in Los Angeles and set up meetings with five teams—Houston, the Lakers, Dallas, Golden State and Atlanta—each of whom came in and made formal presentations.
Anthony has not finalized any list of teams, but the Knicks and Bulls are certain to be on it. Chicago would have to shed salary to accommodate Anthony, but the Bulls will make Anthony their offseason priority. Chicago has its amnesty provision available and could use it to dump the contract of forward Carlos Boozer.
The Bulls also have the 16th and 19th picks in the draft, and could use those to entice a team to trade for Boozer’s contract.
Either way, going to Chicago would require Anthony to take a pay cut to leave New York, but—as Howard did when he left the Lakers to sign with the Rockets—Anthony would be willing to do so. Also, while nothing has been set, the Lakers, Rockets and Clippers could be among the teams to pitch Anthony in July.
While Anthony is conscious of the poor PR that would come from jilting his hometown Knicks, it is—again—Howard’s situation that has most altered his view. Howard left Orlando and dumped the Lakers after just one season, and went through a gauntlet of bad PR in doing so. But Howard seems genuinely happy in Houston, even if getting there was difficult. And for Howard, the storm of bad publicity has long since passed.
All of this puts added pressure on (Phil) Jackson and his decision for the next Knicks coach. Although it is not likely to have an impact on Anthony’s decision, hiring a new coach is the only major change Jackson can make to the Knicks, who are hampered by the fact that the roster comes with the second-highest payroll in the league.
Even if Anthony signs elsewhere, the Knicks will have about $68 million in contract commitments, meaning they’re likely to be over the salary cap before free agency even begins. New York also does not have a first-round draft pick, having included it in the package it sent to Denver to get Anthony in the first place.