Carmelo Anthony should reconsider his decision to become a free agent this summer. Perhaps he shouldn't do it at all.
In fact, for big-name players who have the option to be free agents this summer, the prudent move might be to stay in their contracts. That includes LeBron James.
If you take a step back and look at the entire landscape, the advantages for choosing that path become clear. And such a decision by the marquee players in the market would raise the curtain on the Summer of 2015 -- potentially the biggest year in NBA free-agent history.
Anthony has already made a major contract mistake once in his career, a choice that has limited his options to this day. His lack of long-term thinking in 2006 caused him to miss the free-agent bonanza in 2010 because, unlike his superstar peers such as James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Anthony set himself up to be a free agent in 2011. That was a year too late.
Wade, James and Bosh, who were thinking ahead in 2006, teamed up in Miami. Anthony was left to listen to toasts about missed opportunities and future dreams at his wedding while James was checking out mansions in Florida.
If Anthony opts out this summer, he could be compromising himself again, this time doing it a year too early. He could miss out on a great chance to find the best situation with the best teammates. By opting in for 2014-15 and signing a new max deal in summer 2015, Anthony would earn an additional $4.27 million through 2017-18 and be able to lock in an additional season, per Larry Coon.
"It really comes down to what the player truly wants because that is what matters, you will execute his decision," said one of the NBA's top agents, who does not represent Anthony. "But I would advise my star clients that 2015 is a better year to be a free agent if getting onto a championship contender is the top priority."
This past October, in an informal announcement, Anthony said he was looking forward to using the opt out in his contract to become a free agent this summer. He referred to it as a "dream" scenario.
As the Knicks' season has spiraled downward, he had added that he would be willing to take less money on a new deal and that the Knicks' off-court problems would play into his decision. This has only increased the belief that Anthony will follow through with choice to leave his $23 million option and head to the open market and, quite possibly, look for a destination other than New York.
Faced with what is happening right in front of his face, this decision would seem logical. But when Anthony spends 10 weeks thinking about it -- the time between the Knicks' season ending in mid-April and his opt-out deadline of June 30 -- he'll see a more complicated set of circumstances.
Opting in with the Knicks and playing out his existing contract is not an option Anthony is considering now, a source close to Anthony told ESPN. He still plans to become a free agent and sign a new deal this summer. That's understandable, especially in what has to be an extremely frustrating season in New York.
This is not lost on the Knicks. After months of projecting a confident stance that Anthony would remain with the team into the future, doubts have crept into the front office and the prospect of Anthony leaving this summer has become worrisome, according to league sources.