Carmelo or no Carmelo, Phil isn’t losing any sleep
Jamie C. Harris | 7/3/2014, 12:58 p.m.
In the NBA, there is no longer an offseason. The term has become theoretical. Nowadays, teams are built into winners in large part through free agent signings.
As they did in the summer of 2010, the Knicks are facing franchise-altering decisions this summer that could profoundly shape their short- and long-term future. Back then, LeBron James was the grand prize. When the Knicks failed to land him, owner James Dolan and his lieutenants felt compelled to sign Amar’e Stoudemire to a five-year, $100 million contract.
They are still reeling from that judgment. Stoudemire was spectacular in his first year with the Knicks, but he has battled multiple injuries in subsequent years and has hamstrung their salary cap. Four years later and entering the final season of that dubious contract, Stoudemire is little more than a chess piece for the team’s president, Phil Jackson, who is seeking to move nearly everyone on the current roster as part of his strategy to gain key assets that will help him construct a championship contender.
Jackson has already accomplished one of his first orders of business by trading Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. They were jettisoned to the Dallas Mavericks, in essence, for veteran point guard Jose Calderon.
Jackson’s most valuable asset when he took over the job this past March is now on the market. Carmelo Anthony began his long-anticipated recruiting visits on Tuesday by meeting with the Chicago Bulls. While it’s still a possibility that Anthony will resign with the Knicks, Jackson’s primary objective is to create and maintain salary cap flexibility to ensure that the franchise will be able to sign at least two impact players during next summer’s free agent bazar. If he opts for free agency, expect Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, Calderon’s best friend, to be one of the Zen master’s targets.
While Jackson would welcome Anthony back at a far less amount than the $129 million max contract the Knicks can pay him, as he stated in late May, the 13-time NBA champion is “not losing any sleep” over the future Hall of Famer testing the waters.