It’s been 10 days since the start of free agency, and still, Carmelo Anthony remains teamless. Now, after LeBron James has announced he will sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the market may start to move.
Chris Bosh is reportedly heading back to Miami, and Anthony now stands out as the biggest name on the free-agent market with teams who cleared space for James left with plenty of capital to make a move.
Phil Jackson, who spoke with reporters Thursday, said he hasn’t had much contact with Anthony outside of their one-on-one meeting, but remains optimistic the eight-time All-Star would return to New York.
Head coach Derek Fisher seems to be on the same page.
“I haven’t heard anything different than that,” explains Fisher after the Knicks started off Las Vegas Summer League with a 76-64 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. “We talked all this week about the fact that it’s not our decision.”
The NBA’s youngest coach stressed that point. The Knicks simply can’t force anything. All they can do is wait, even if Anthony is going to take his time.
“He’s an adult,” emphasizes Fisher. “He’s allowed to make decisions that he feels are best for him.”
The Knicks do have some advantages in the Melo sweepstakes. They can offer him a max contract of $129 million, more than any other team can put on the table.
Jackson clearly presents a valuable chip other teams can’t beat. Then there’s Fisher, the young, likable head coach who is still somewhat of an unknown, someone who is pushing hard for the star’s return, talking to Anthony “as much as I can, but not trying to overdo it.”
In some ways Fisher, who was a player as recently as just over a month ago, understands Anthony as we as any coach can. He just went through this process last offseason, though he was hardly as highly courted as Melo. Still, the free agency process and the player’s mentality is still fresh on his mind.
“Decisions as free agents are never as easy as they seem,” the first-time coach clarifies. “A lot of focus is on the contract size or the amount of money and the years, but often times, guys are thinking on a much larger level.”
Anthony’s family lives in New York. His wife has publicly stated her adoration for the city. Now, it’s part of the Knicks’ job to sell that side to him.
“It’s not just about basketball,” Fisher went on. “Guys have wives, families, kids. Moving is tough.”
On LeBron James heading to Cleveland: “I wasn’t necessarily surprised ... It looks like things are going to work out and I’m happy for him and his family if that’s what he truly wants.
On what James signing with Cleveland means for competition in the Eastern Conference:
“I’m not sure. You know, LeBron is still in the East so he still makes my job difficult in terms of playing him four times a year, but anytime guys of that level -- LeBron, Carmelo, those type of guys -- they shift the league. There will probably be some dominoes that will start to fall around the league now that he’s made his decision.”
Clyde hopeful: On the MSG broadcast, Knicks legend and MSG analyst Clyde Frazier expressed optimism that Anthony would return to the Knicks.
“Well Melo, born in Brooklyn - will the prodigal son return to New York? Obviously everybody’s hoping that he will, so stay tuned,” Frazier said. “I feel positive that Melo is going to return, he likes the challenge."
MSG televises every Knicks summer league game.