By Zach Harper cbssportsline.com
Back in 2011, Carmelo Anthony was on the Denver Nuggets and set to test the free agent waters to try to find his way to the New York Knicks. It caused the "Melo Drama" heard round publications and websites everywhere. Before having to find a creative way to get himself onto the Knicks once he hit free agency, the Nuggets traded him to his preferred destination in a three-team deal that included 13 players, four draft picks, and cash.
Anthony has two years left on his contract, including the 2013-14 season, that will net roughly $44.7 million. He also has an early termination clause for the summer of 2014 if he wants to test the free agency waters and try to tack on an extra big money year onto his career earnings. In an interview with the New York Observer, Carmelo says he wants to be a free agent and have the experience of being evaluated as a free agent target. From ESPN New York:
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said in a recent interview that he wants to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and test free agency.
"I want to be a free agent," Anthony told the New York Observer. "I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It's like you have an evaluation period, you know. It's like if I'm in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience."
According to the ESPN New York post, Anthony is eligible for a five-year, $129 million deal if he decides to re-sign with the Knicks if he opts out this summer. He could leave to play for another team and sign a maximum deal of four years and $95 million.
Wanting to be a free agent isn't necessarily a big deal for Anthony and Knicks fans. He's going to test the free-agency waters in 2014 or 2015. If he and his agent are tactical, he'll opt out in 2014, sign a max deal with either the Knicks or a new team, and include an early opt-out option in that deal as well so he can maximize the number of big money years he has in his career. It would also protect him financially early in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement if the players get hit hard in 2017, assuming one of the negotiating parties decides to opt out of the CBA.
Testing the waters of free agency doesn't mean he'll leave either. For Anthony, New York was his destination for both basketball and personal reasons. It allowed him to play for one of the most popular sports franchises in the world and gave his wife ample opportunities to further her career in a gigantic market. There would be risk in leaving the Knicks and he can sign for the most money there. However, if it looks like the team can't compete for the Eastern Conference title as currently constructed after this season, there are quite a few teams that could afford to throw a max deal his way if he decides he wants to leave.