- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If Carmelo Anthony wants to opt out of his contract next summer and leave New York, it's going to cost him.
Anthony's contract has an opt-out clause after the 2013-14 season.
If he chooses to opt out and sign with another team, he can sing a four-year contract worth $95,897,372, according to calculations by ESPN salary cap guru Larry Coon. If Anthony opts out and re-signs with the Knicks, he can sign a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. That's a difference of $33,238,434.
Those numbers are based on the assumption Anthony, one of the top scorers in the NBA, will sign a max contract. It's also worth noting that if Anthony exercises his early termination option next summer, he'd be walking away from $23,333,403 in guaranteed money for the 2014-15 season.
Many have speculated that Anthony will opt out of his deal if the Knicks fail to show progress this season. New York hasn't exactly moved the needle with its moves in free agency and the trade market this summer. Knicks GM Glen Grunwald has been severely limited because the Knicks are in an awful salary-cap situation (because of their own doing).
Meanwhile, other teams in the Eastern Conference have taken steps forward. Chicago will likely have a healthy Derrick Rose back next season. They have also added a valuable asset in Mike Dunleavy Jr. Brooklyn acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Indiana, a young contending team, will likely remain largely intact. And Miami is Miami.
So the Knicks will have plenty of competition in the East. They've re-signed Pablo Prigioni and J.R. Smith, and traded for Andrea Bargnani. But, even with those players on the roster, many have them pegged -- on paper -- as the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference.
If the Knicks take a step backwards next season, maybe Anthony sees the writing on the wall and decides to skip town in search of an NBA title. Many have speculated that he could head to Los Angeles, where the Lakers are expected to have ample cap space next summer.
For what it's worth, here's what Anthony said when asked about his opt out in May.
"I can't think about that right now. That would be selfish on my part to sit back and think about a situation like that, think about something like that," he said. "When that time comes I'll deal with it. Right now, it's all about getting better -- myself, as a team, and moving forward."
When asked how the Knicks' 2013-14 season would factor in his decision, Anthony reiterated: "It's hard for me to think about at this point."
Let's say Anthony decides to stay in New York through the end of his current contract. In that scenario, he can re-sign with the Knicks for a five-year, $140,875,420 contract, starting in the 2015-16 season.
If he finishes his current contract with the Knicks and signs with another team as a free agent, Anthony's max contract would be a four-year, $104,615,312 pact.
So if Anthony wants to leave New York, he'll be leaving a city full of angry fans -- and a lot of money on the table.
QUESTION: Do you think Melo will opt out in 2014-15? If so, are you worried that he will sign with another team? Could that be a good thing for the Knicks?
* - Special thanks to Larry Coon for his assistance with the information presented in this blog.
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You can follow Larry Coon on Twitter.
1dIan O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer