The New York Knicks were formally eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday, which all but officially tips off what will be an interesting offseason in the Big Apple. Since Carmelo Anthony can opt out of his contract and Phil Jackson has taken over direction of the franchise, there are all sorts of questions about how things will play out in the coming months.
"When Steve Mills was hired as general manager by owner James Dolan four days before training camp, he came in to implement the next plan of attack, to take advantage of cap flexibility for 2015 and possibly 2016 that would entice Anthony to stay put," wrote Marc Berman of the New York Post.
"Mills and Dolan sold Jackson on the plan during their four-month courtship. But as a person close to the situation says, Jackson is in charge now and has the right to take a detour anytime he wishes."
Time will tell whether Jackson follows through with that plan, but convincing Melo to stick around through next season will be no small task, especially if a genuine contender like the Chicago Bulls come calling. On Friday, Anthony praised Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
“I have no clue,” Anthony told reporters in Toronto when asked about the difference between the Knicks and Bulls. “Thibs is a great coach. His system kind of reminds me of [Spurs coach] Gregg Popovich’s system.
"You put anybody in that system and it’s going to work. And that’s what they’ve been doing. They had guys who have been sitting out all season long, guys [have] been in and out the lineup, and they seem to get it done.”
ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley doesn't put too much weight into those comments but notes that they should make Knicks fans a tad nervous:
"Again, Anthony was probably just being polite when talking about the Bulls. But if you’re a Knicks fan convinced that Anthony's going to sign with another team this summer in free agency, those comments aren't going to ease your mind. The Bulls, Rockets and Lakers are among a small group of teams expected to express interest in Anthony this summer. Chicago is one of the most logical destinations for Anthony, who has said his top priority is to win a title. The Bulls are perennial contenders and figure to remain so with Rose coming back next season. ... Anthony has said his first priority is to re-sign with the Knicks, who can offer him a max contract for one year longer and $33 million more than any other team. But Anthony has also said he'd be willing to take less money from the Knicks or another team if it meant helping them attract other free agents."