New York Knicks fans fear they could lose Carmelo Anthony if and when he exercises the opt-out clause in his contract this summer. He has until June 23 to do so.
Until then, there will be plenty of speculation about Anthony’s future, as well as the Knicks’ plans to either replace him or surround him with more talent. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has laid out one scenario which includes Anthony and LeBron James teaming up in Madison Square Garden.
During his radio show Wednesday on ESPN New York 98.7, Smith said ‘Melo and LeBron would like to play together, pinning the chances of that happening at 95 percent. Smith added that if both All-Star forwards opted in to their contracts, they’re likely to wind up together.
“LeBron wants to play with Melo,” Smith said. “Melo wants to play with LeBron.”
“I’m here to tell you right now it’s a 95 percent possibility — if not more — that they would join forces whether it be in New York or Miami,” he added.
This may be music to the ears of Knicks fans, but at the same time, they felt spurned by LeBron when he chose Miami over New York back in the summer of 2010. It could also be a lift for Heat fans who wonder whether the Big Three of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James can continue to play together.
The Knicks are well off in terms of salary cap space. According to Spotrac.com, the Knicks have a projected salary cap of $93.5 million, tops in the NBA, which would theoretically be enough to sign two maximum-contract players.
Miami has about $72 million in salary cap room for 2014-15, which ranks fourth in the league.
The big question is whether James (and for that matter, Anthony) exercise the opt-in clause. James’ decision may be decided for him as soon as Sunday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals and where the Heat stand against the San Antonio Spurs when the series is over.
Another NBA Finals victory could be enough to convince James to stay in South Beach, but a loss could fuel him to try and win elsewhere. It could also force Heat president Pat Riley to revamp the roster, realizing James’ surrounding cast isn’t good enough to continue to win titles.