By Marc Rasbury
By the time this issue hits the stands, this may be a mute point and this “Is he coming or is he staying game” might be resolved in one way or another. It is just that this Carmelo Anthony drama is starting to get on my nerves. It is not that I do not want to see the versatile scoring machine wearing a Knick uniform but this unfolding saga is starting to resemble a high stake poker game with an unlimited pot.
It seems as if you can not turn on your TV these days without seeing folks playing poker with the outcome of a man’s existence on this earth depending on every hand. That is what the “Melo Drama” has turned into where the careers and job security of numerous participants depend on the outcome. The general consensus is that Donny Walsh will lose his job if Melo is not here by the trading deadline. Conversely, some feel that heads will roll if Denver accepts the package that Knicks are offering. No one knows for sure where Carmelo will end up. The one thing we do know is that several teams and careers will be impacted based on the outcome of this made for TV, or Sports Center, drama.
What makes this game of bluff so interesting is that this one of those rare times that the player has a major say on how his future will turn out while he is still under contract. Anthony has made it unequivocally clear that he wants to play for New York and only New York. There are those who believe that he wants to be in this area so that his wife, La La, who has TV aspirations, could be in the center of the media capitol. Whatever the reason for Melo’s yearning to be in New York it has handcuffed Denver’s ability to trade and get something of near value for their disgruntled superstar.
There have been several players at the card table. This past off season the Lakers made preliminary inquiries about a trade centering around their big man Andrew Bynum. Those talks quickly fizzled and Los Angeles folded. News came out recently that they were trying to get back into the game but many felt that it was released by the Nuggets only to put pressure on the Knicks to make a deal.
The New Jersey Nets got into the picture. They made the best deal to date when they offered Devin Harris, Derrick Flavors and two first round picks. Denver was ready to pounce on that one. The only hold up was that there was no guarantee that Melo would sign a long term extension with the Nets. Without that extension the Nets would not pull the trigger. New owner Mikal felt that the team was being played and held hostage by Anthony and Denver’s management so he told his team to fold em.
Then you had a few teams like Dallas and Houston who were even willing to rent Anthony for this year and take their chances with signing him to an extension after the season. Then they took into account the long term risk and decided to take the chips that they still had left and excused themselves from the table.
So now that just leaves our Knicks, who are still feeling the pain of being jilted by LeBron James this summer. It has been reported that Donny Walsh has offered Wilson Chandler, Eddie Curry’s expiring contract and either Danilo Gallinari or Landry Fields and Denver scoffed at this proposal. Most people feel that Walsh is hoping to hold on to both Gallinari and Fields if possible and is willing to wait to the end of the season to sign Anthony as a free agent this summer. Now this is where things get interesting.
If Walsh gambles and waits until the end of the season, he risks losing Anthony with several scenarios. With the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire in July, no team can sign a free agent or make a trade until a new CBA has been signed. Moreover, within that new CBA there may a franchise tag similar to what the NFL has and the owners are looking to put a cap of eleven million dollars per year and with a maximum of three to four years on any new contract. If that is the case, Anthony could loose up thirty nine million dollars between what Denver has on the table and what he could sign this summer. And we are not going even talk about the possibility of him getting hurt between now and the new CBA is signed.
Everybody has something on the line with this card game. The Nuggets are hoping that the Knicks feel the pressure from their fans and give up the house. The Knicks hope that Denver bows to the pressure of losing Anthony and end up getting nothing in return like Cleveland and Toronto this summer. Anthony does not want to leave over thirty five million on table even at the risk of upsetting the Mrs. who wants to return to the Big Apple. There are plenty of interwoven career changing decisions that will be made in the upcoming months during this poker tilt. It is going to come down who blinks first.