If you thought this summer’s NBA offseason was wild, just wait until 2014.
After this season, there will be a pool of potential free agents that could include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and—most notably for the Los Angeles Lakers—Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony could opt out of the final year of his deal with the Knicks and become a free agent after this season, which is a strong possibility according to ESPN LA.
Anthony's plans also remain unclear for next summer, but one source close to the situation told ESPN that it would "make sense" for him to exercise the early-termination option on his contract after next season to become a free agent and secure either a four- or five-year extension.
Four out of the top five picks from the 2003 Draft have won a ring, Anthony being the lone outcast. At 29 years old, and after 10 years in the league, the six-time All Star is in hot pursuit of an NBA championship to significantly bolster his legacy.
And, at the moment, New York is in better in position to win than the Lakers.
The Knicks simply have a more well-rounded roster than Los Angeles right now, so if a title is truly the goal for Anthony (and it should be) he won’t be leaving the Knicks.
The Lakers would have tons of cap room in 2014, which would allow Anthony to potentially pair up with another star or even two if they take pay cuts, similar to what the Miami Heat did in 2010.
However, there is already a star in Los Angeles—one who won’t give up the reigns to the team like Wade did in South Beach.
Kobe Bryant and Anthony playing on the team simply would not work—both players are just too similar to coexist. Each of these high-volume shooters need to dominate the ball in order to be effective, and neither has consistently excelled at making their teammates better over the course of their careers.
Plus, there would be the inevitable question: "Whose team is it?"
Look at how the Melo/Amar’e dynamic worked on the Knicks; It only improved when Stoudemire took a backseat and acknowledged that it was Anthony’s team. Is that something the Black Mamba would do, even in the later years of his career?
Absolutely not. He already proved it in how he handled Dwight Howard this season.
Bryant and Anthony are both tremendous scorers individually, but there is only one ball and only so many shots to go around. Despite the fact that Bryant will also be a free agent, he has made it clear that he plans on staying in Los Angeles for the rest of his career.
Anthony could also look at how this past season unfolded in Los Angeles. Bryant was one of the main reasons that Howard chose the Houston Rockets over the Lakers, and that could give Anthony a sense of foreboding of a potentially negative relationship with his prospective teammate.
Although he’ll probably opt out of the deal next season in order to get more money, Anthony has made no indication that signing with Los Angeles has even crossed his mind.
At this point in his career, it wouldn’t make sense for Melo to leave the Knicks, the team that he forced his way onto, in order to try and form a potential All-Star squad that would have the possibility of flopping in L.A.
The Lakers can promise Anthony that other stars will follow him to Los Angeles. On the other hand, the Knicks can show him that he's surrounded with young, potential stars like Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr., as well as reigning Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith, who are already on the roster and will be productive for years to come.
Melo desperately needs to add a championship to his resume and his best chance to do that is not with a rebuilding Lakers team that still has an aging Bryant.
Anthony’s best shot to win his coveted ring is to stay right where he is and continue playing some of the best basketball of his career, with an improved and re-energized Knicks team that's already better than it was in 2013.
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