BY ZACH BUCKLEY
At least, that’s how one of Anthony’s former teammates sees it.
“I think he’s leaving,” the anonymous player told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. “I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.”
If winning is what he wants, Anthony may already have his bags packed.
The Knicks (9-21) have the third-worst winning percentage in the NBA. And nothing about this sluggish start seems fluky. New York has struggled to find any offensive consistency (101.1 points per 100 possessions, 20th) and seems unwilling or unable to get stops at the opposite end (105.8 points allowed per 100 possessions, 25th).
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“We are the laughingstock of the league right now,” Anthony said nearly one month and eight losses ago, via ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “Do I like being laughed at? Hell, no. I don’t like that feeling.”
Simply put, New York is bad, and there are no signs of that changing.
Bad enough to chase Anthony out of the Big Apple, though? That remains to be seen.
It’s a matter of when, not if, he’ll opt out of the final year left on his current contract. The act of entering the free-agent market doesn’t guarantee his departure, but it does put his future up in the air.
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The Knicks can offer him an extra year and approximately $30 million more than any of his other potential suitors. But, as NBC Sports’ Brett Pollakoff noted, economics might not be a driving force in his decision:
Anthony will have an estimated $135 million in career earnings (not including endorsements) once this season is finished, so like Dwight Howard last summer, one more year on a deal to stay somewhere he doesn’t want to be—even for $30 million—won’t be worth it when he considers his long-term happiness.
The appeal of Anthony winning in New York is undoubtedly high. He worked his tail off to force his way to the city and would like nothing more than to validate that move on the championship podium.
But he needs help to make that happen. Help that isn’t there and won’t be coming any time soon.
The question will become whether he’s actually willing to wait around for its arrival. That’s an answer he likely doesn’t have yet, but that won’t stop others from trying to find it for him.