Although the Knicks would like to lock up Anthony long term and can guarantee him roughly $30 million more than any other team over the next five years, even they would understand if Anthony wanted to put off the decision for a year. It could be beneficial to everyone.
This is why:
The market this summer for top-line free agents is relatively weak. The teams projected to have at least $15 million in cap space this summer are the Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Several other teams could get to that area, which is still well short of a max contract slot (about $22 million), by waiving some players or not re-signing some of their own free agents. These teams include the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers and, under extreme circumstances, the Heat.
Here are some of the teams in 2015 that are projected to have large cap space: the Knicks, Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and possibly the Houston Rockets. The Heat and the Bulls, in better cap position that year, could be very much in the game again, as well.
Here are the top players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this summer: Luol Deng, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki. James, Wade, Bosh, Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Anthony are the top players who have the choice to become free agents if they want, or each can push it to 2015.
Now, here's the list of players who have the option to be unrestricted free agents in 2015: James, Wade, Bosh, Anthony, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert and Goran Dragic. Plus names such as Randolph, Gay, Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, David West, DeAndre Jordan, Thaddeus Young, Arron Afflalo, Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis.
Anthony has made it clear he wants to play in a big market; he forced his way to New York in 2011 to get there. The difference in big-market teams with cap space and overall talent on the market in 2015 compared with 2014 is dramatic.
The Knicks, Celtics and Lakers (if they wait) could have the chance to add multiple stars that summer. The Heat's options could be much more open. The opportunity to select a desirable location and draw another star or two with Anthony is massively different, especially if the players with those 2014 options stay in their contracts.
Anthony's list of realistic options this summer is much slimmer. Even if he follows through with his offer to accept a pay cut, there is not a clear-cut choice of where to go, just a lot of questions and muddy answers.