The Carmelo Anthony tour de free agency finished up Thursday, with what can only be described as "the money pit."
Anthony met with two of the NBA's marquee franchises, the Lakers and representatives of the team he forced his way to in 2011, the New York Knicks., Thursday in Los Angeles The pitches from the two teams were similar. Tradition. Market. A legendary figure (Kobe Bryant in LA, Phil Jackson in New York). But most of all?
ESPN reported that the Lakers offered the max a non-Knicks team can offer: four years, $96 million dollars.
Lakers made it clear to Melo today they'd offer the maximum, 4-yr, $97mil contract they can, if he chose them.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 4, 2014
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News and ESPN New York reported that the Knicks countered that with the offer everyone wondered if they were really willing to put on the table: the max five-year, $129 million the Knicks can offer under the CBA.
Carmelo was always confident the Knocks would offer him the max. Which they have.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 4, 2014
So Anthony has his options before him. Yahoo Sports reports that the star forward will take the long weekend to make a decision.
Around Carmelo Anthony, there's a belief that he plans to take the weekend in Los Angeles to make a decision on his free agency choice.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 3, 2014
So the table's set for Anthony, who reportedly is at least somewhat interested in recruiting Pau Gasol to join him in New York if he were to return. The options for Anthony essentially come down to "Best Chance To Win Now" vs. "An Ungodly Amount of Money."
The Lakers used a video presentation... no, that's not accurate. Reportedly, they used a film produced by Joel Silver. Just to be clear, the Lakers thought their best chance at signing the second-biggest star on the market was the guy who brought us this:
So I'm sure that went well.
Kobe Bryant wasn't able to make it back from Brazil for the meeting but is expected to reach out to Anthony by phone. Given how Bryant's last pitch to Dwight Howard went, it might be a good thing that Bryant didn't arrive in time.
The Knicks managed to not only get a meeting with Anthony for Thursday afternoon and evening, but moved up the Lakers' meeting to get it. Every indication is that the Knicks remain the favorite for Anthony's services. What that tells you is that Anthony really is first and foremost concerned with the money. And as I said in Wednesday's update, that's totally fine. But it also means that he's effectively wasted the time of the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks, and Lakers. There's "I wanted to see what was around" and there's "I'm turning down these offers even though there is no basketball reason whatsoever to return to New York." It's cool that he wants the money, but there should no longer be any discussion of how winning is the top priority for Anthony if that's the case.
Meanwhile, Gasol lurks as Anthony's next star running mate. But isn't this a little deja vu? Anthony was supposed to have a superstar team in 2011 but Amar'e Stoudemire's body couldn't hold up. Now an aging Pau Gasol is supposed to bring him the glory he seeks, alongside Jose Calderon? Gasol is still an effective player, but the Knicks' interior defense will be a sieve and after losses to the Heat, Celtics, and Pacers in the playoffs over the past four years, you'd think Anthony had learned the value of defense.
The good news is that Anthony likely won't drag this situation out as it appears LeBron James is set to with meetings next week. He'll either take the money or he won't. All that's left to do with the Melodrama 2.0 is wait and watch.