Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
Brian Windhorst, who has a longstanding relationship with LeBron James and has been all over this Carmelo Anthony/Heat story for ESPN.com, says there is “momentum” building for Anthony to leave the Knicks.
“This is happening,” Windhorst said Thursday on SportsCenter. “The Heat are going to prepare to try to make Carmelo Anthony an offer when he becomes a free agent in about 10 days time [June 23]. Over the last few days, it’s become clear to the rest of the league that Carmelo Anthony is fully intending to seek his other alternatives definitely outside of his contract and frankly there’s a momentum gathering in the league that the belief is that he’s going to leave the New York Knicks.
“And there will be many options for Carmelo, most of them will not require the kind of pay cut that will be required for him to come to the Miami Heat…The Heat have been playing this for a long time. We’re just now figuring it out. They’re focusing on this series but when this series is over, they’re going to turn all their attention, win or lose, to adding another giant piece to this team so they can extend that championship window.”
The Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, L.A. Lakers and Dallas Mavericks are also seen as suitors for Anthony.
ESPN.com and the New York Post both reported that Anthony has until June 23 to inform the Knicks whether he intends to opt in or opt out.
Knicks President Phil Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher both said Tuesday they didn’t know what Anthony’s plans were, but hoped he would remain in New York.
Jackson said he planned to meet with Anthony “in the near future” to discuss his plans. Jackson previously said he hoped that Anthony would opt in and delay free agency until 2015, when the Knicks will have $52 million in cap space to lure other free agents — potentially including LeBron James — to New York.
As reported by ESPN.com, in order for the Heat to turn their Big 3 into a Big 4 this summer. Anthony would have to opt out and James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would also have to opt out this summer and would have to make financial concessions on their new deals beginning next season.
That would allow Anthony to make about $15 million with the Heat as opposed to a max deal elsewhere.
Anthony has given mixed signals throughout much of the past year.
On the one hand, he has said he wants to retire in New York and also that he would take less money to help build a winner here.
On the other, he has said that winning and competing for an NBA championship are the most important things to him.
“I want to win a championship, so I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to win a championship,” he said in February. “If that means testing free agency and see what happens on that market, then so be it.”
The question is will he sacrifice financially in order to attempt to win a ring with King James and company in Miami?
The Heat may be poised to target Anthony, but the defending NBA champs do not appear to stand tall as the most sensible suitor for the forward’s services.
Of course, Miami has won two (and are currently going for a third) titles with LeBron James in town. After James and Chris Bosh arrived in South Beach, even resident hero Dwyane Wade soon conceded in allowing the Heat to become James’ team.
Anthony may be dedicated to winning a championship, but is he prepared to play second-fiddle to another superstar, even at this point in the prime of his career?
The trade for Anthony left the Knicks without many assets and/or as much flexibility to build a supergroup of sorts. Still, the Brooklyn native was set to team up with Amar’e Stoudemire (who, at the time was playing at an M.V.P.-like level for New York) and go from there. There was an opportunity to bring in another big time player, and with that in mind, Tyson Chandler came to town.
On paper (prior to Stoudemire’s continued injuries), the trio looked formidable enough to contend with Miami, at the very least. But even though Anthony’s arrival followed Stoudemire’s, there’s been no mistaking whose team the Knicks were supposed to be from day one.
Anthony basks in such glory, and relishes in the opportunity to be looked at as “the man.” Would be he content with giving up such notoriety (a la Bosh or even Wade) in Miami? Taking a pay cut is one thing, because it allows a team to surround the aforementioned star with better talent. Such a star would receive some credit for that taking place.
But the talented players who come in, as a result of that, undoubtedly lose a bit of status while going under another superstar’s umbrella, in return for chasing a title.
Whether or not Anthony, at just 30 years of age, is willing to make that sacrifice, remains to be seen. Some of the other potential suitors (such as the Rockets and Bulls) would seem to embrace Anthony more as “the man,” than the Heat would.
And of course, Anthony is already looked at as such on the Knicks.