Reports have indicated that Carmelo Anthony could make his decision on Sunday, and while he still can, the hours of Sunday are quickly drifting away.
Anthony is believed to be deciding between the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Chicago Bulls.
The Lakers are a late-entrant into the sweepstakes as reports indicated on Saturday that they have emerged as a serious contender.
The Knicks were believed to be the favorites to sign Anthony, however, a report from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday suggests that Anthony may have felt slighted by the Knicks when the two sides met this past Thursday.
[Wall Street Journal]
According to a person familiar with the situation, Anthony felt as if he got mixed signals from the New York Knicks during his meeting with the team on Thursday. While Anthony and his camp were told that he could have a maximum contract if he wanted it, a source said, team president Phil Jackson continued to preach the virtues of taking less than the maximum—a message that left Anthony questioning whether the max offer was sincere.
If Anthony felt slighted, it might explain the Lakers’ emergence as a possible destination. They are the only other suitor armed with enough cap space to be able to make Anthony a maximum contract offer. (The Lakers can offer four years and $96 million, while the Knicks, due to CBA rules, can give Anthony five years and $129 million.) Chicago, Houston and Dallas all have less cap space.
The Lakers involvement seems a bit questionable to say the least.
There are two possible scenarios as to why the Lakers may have “emerged” as a serious contender.
The first, and likeliest, scenario is that Anthony is trying to force Phil Jackson and the Knicks to stick to their word and offer a max-contract. There has been some belief that Jackson may renege on his promise to offer Anthony a max-contract. Anthony’s camp may have floated out the Lakers’ reports as a way to keep Jackson honest.
The second scenario is that Anthony is trying to coax a sign-and-trade to the Bulls. Anthony could be threatening the Knicks by entertaining the idea of taking a max-contract from the Lakers and leaving the Knicks with nothing. Jackson has been reluctant to work with the Bulls on a possible sign-and-trade, though if Anthony is destined to leave, the Knicks’ president may change his mind.
If the Lakers are truly in contention, then the Bulls may be in trouble. Beyond the max-contract, the Lakers also offer Anthony the chance to play with Kobe Bryant as well as a LA-lifestyle for his wife, LaLa.