Carmelo Anthony could opt out of his contract with the Knicks after this coming season, and that is likely to loom like a black cloud over the team throughout the season.
Anthony is due to make $21.5 million this season, but has a player option in 2014-15, when he is slated to make $23.5 million.
Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out after the season, and there is already widespread discussion of potential landing spots for James and Anthony. James has been linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as his current team, the Miami Heat, and Anthony is also being linked to the Lakers.
“It’s really premature to talk about that,” Knicks GM Glen Grunwald said Tuesday. “But we obviously love Carmelo. We think he’s great for New York and New York’s great for him.
“We see it being a long-term successful partnership with him as we go forward but right now it’s just too early to say anything other than to say we’re looking forward to this coming season.”
Every NBA team can designate one guy as a “franchise player” and give him a five-year contract, and the Knicks haven’t used that one-time right. So even if Anthony opts out, it could simply be a vehicle to get himself a five-year deal.
The Knicks face injury questions surrounding Amar’e Stoudemire and now J.R. Smith entering this season, and it’s unclear how newcomer Andrea Bargnani will mesh with Anthony and the other Knicks.
If the team underperforms this season, or if Anthony decides he simply has a better chance of winning a title elsewhere, he could opt to bolt.
“I can’t think about that right now,” Anthony said May 20, the day after the season ended. “That would be selfish on my part to sit back and think about a situation like that, think about something like that. When that time comes I’ll deal with it. Right now, it’s all about getting better myself, as a team and moving forward.”
KNICKS STILL WANT THIRD POINT GUARD
Grunwald confirmed the Knicks are still in the market for a third point guard behind Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni and said the team might just open it up to competition in training camp.
“There’s a lot of candidates and we’re just going through an evaluation right now to see who might be the best thing,” Grunwald said.
“It may be that we just want to open it up to a competition in training camp and bring some of the players in here that are willing to compete for it and earn a contract much like Chris Copeland did last year.
Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks, Sebastian Telfair and Toury Murry, who is on their summer league roster, are among those linked to the Knicks as a possible point guard.
Grunwald also said Chris Smith, J.R.’s younger brother who is on the summer league roster, would also be given consideration.
“My goal right now is to make a team, whether it’s with the Knicks,” Smith told ESPNNewYork.com in Las Vegas. “No matter who it is, I really want to make a team, and I feel like my chances are getting better and better the more healthy I get.”