Newspaper article International New York Times

4 Options for Knicks, as Star Nears Free Agency ; If Team Trades Anthony, It May Not Get Much except Salary-Cap Room

Newspaper article International New York Times

4 Options for Knicks, as Star Nears Free Agency ; If Team Trades Anthony, It May Not Get Much except Salary-Cap Room

Article excerpt

Carmelo Anthony, who will hit free agency after the season, enters the All-Star weekend with his future uncertain and his team struggling.

Three years ago, Carmelo Anthony was the dominant figure during the N.B.A.'s All-Star weekend. The Denver Nuggets were in the process of completing a deal that would send Anthony to the New York Knicks (for no small price), and members of the news media formed concentric circles around Anthony, several cameras deep. A superstar was on the move, sending seismic tremors across the league.

Anthony is back for another All-Star Game, the seventh of his career and his third as a Knick. While the circumstances have changed, Anthony's future is again uncertain, with the Knicks lurching through a dismal season and Anthony eyeing free agency in July.

This time, Anthony is not instigating anything -- no trade demands or meetings with rival owners, at least not public ones. But his situation is still tenuous enough to spark intrigue, with Anthony soon to be surrounded by high-profile pals like Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Anthony was asked this past week whether he would seek their advice.

"We don't have time to talk like that, man," said Anthony, who declared before the season that he intends to opt out of his deal with the Knicks this summer. "I think All-Star weekend is just a time when you can relax, decompress and kind of reflect on the first half of the season and try to gear up for the second half of the season. But as far as recruiting and things like that, that never happens."

With the Feb. 20 trade deadline looming, the Knicks have decisions to make. They have given absolutely no indication they would consider dealing Anthony before the deadline, even with the team stumbling to a 20-32 record and no relief in sight.

The Knicks signaled as much before training camp when they removed Glen Grunwald as general manager and replaced him with Steve Mills, who has strong ties to Creative Artists Agency, the group that represents Anthony.

And then there is Coach Mike Woodson, who has said he expects Anthony to retire with the Knicks. Then again, after the Knicks lost Wednesday to the Sacramento Kings -- a game Anthony said the Knicks sorely needed to win -- Woodson was more likely to be concerned about his own future.

For now, the situation involving the Knicks and Anthony is a delicate one, with Anthony holding most of the power. Here are four hypotheticals for the future:

Path No. 1

The Knicks trade Anthony before the Feb. 20 deadline.

PROSThe Knicks shield themselves from the doomsday scenario of Anthony's bolting the team as a free agent and leaving them with nothing besides cap space in return. The ideal trade partner offers the Knicks a package that includes a young, inexpensive player (or two) and a draft pick (or two). The move also unburdens the Knicks from having to provide Anthony -- a superstar, but one who will turn 30 in May -- with a five-year contract worth $129 million, the maximum they can offer according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. (The most another team can offer is $96 million over four seasons.)

CONSThe Knicks receive some pieces in exchange for Anthony, but how much value do they get, exactly? …

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