Fresh off his 62-point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 24, Carmelo Anthony is the talk of New York City basketball right now. He’s also a free agent at the end of the season, thanks to a player option in his contract, and his team has been dreadful and dysfunctional this season to say the least.
With the Knicks (16-27) sputtering, there’s been chatter that the team should trade Anthony and receive some type of compensation in case he opts to leave for greener pastures in the summer and they get nothing. But how do you trade a talented scorer such as Anthony and find equal compensation? That’s the situation the Knicks find themselves in. Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: If I’m New York then I’m trying my best to keep Anthony. Simple. He’s a talented contributor who obviously needs pieces around him to help out. He’ll never be a LeBron/Durant-type leader, but he could easily be the co-star of a team with another dominant player as the lead dog. The Knicks’ big-city attraction, with Anthony attached, could and should entice other players to sign up. With Amar'e Stoudemire’s sizable contract coming off the books in 2015, New York could be ready to go free agent shopping again. If New York can convince Anthony to bite the bullet for another season, then both parties will be in line for something a lot better than what’s going now.
Green: You can’t take that risk if you're the Knicks. Trading Anthony is never going to return full value, but it might be best to take what they can and run. You can’t ask a 10-plus year perennial All Star to stomach another season of mediocrity. Anthony knows his time to win is right now. Obviously, we all know he’s a great scorer and fantastic player but LeBron and Kobe are still tiers above him. For him to get invited into that special group, he needs to win and win big. Maybe he joins up with the Los Angeles Clippers or the Lakers, who knows? But wherever he winds up, it'll be a place he knows the clear-cut plans of the organization and how they expect to win immediately. New York won’t be in that position next year so an enticing trade makes sense. Did I mention that the Knicks don’t even have a first round pick in this summer’s loaded draft?
Riley: The Knicks sold the farm to land Anthony a few years ago, so they need to sell the farm again to romance him to stay. Anthony is just entering his prime at age 29, and another four to five years of top-shelf play is clearly in the cards. It doesn’t matter who they have to fire or hire, doing whatever they can to keep the Brooklyn-born Anthony at Madison Square Garden should be top priority. Roughly $40 million is scheduled to come off the Knicks’ books in 2015, giving New York a few expiring contracts that they could flip for a stronger supporting cast, or position for a 2015 free agent class headlined by Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyrie Irving for starters. Help is on the way for New York, but can Anthony be patient enough to wait?
Green: At this point in his career, Anthony can’t sit around and wait to see if the Knicks get better. He wants to win now and he’s already given New York three years of his best play—now it’s time he gets what he wants. There’s no way he resigns in New York this summer unless the Knicks can flip the roster this offseason, which will be a tough task for a front office that’s made several regretful moves over the last few seasons. This season has gone belly up for the Knickerbockers, and the front office can’t just let their most valuable asset leave without getting something in return. The smart move and only move at this point is to trade Carmelo Anthony.