Time for Carmelo Anthony to show his true worth

By Robby Sabo,
Does Melo equal team player?

Although the criticisms flew in every direction towards LeBron James in the summer of 2010, nobody can deny the fact that he took less money to ensure "The Big-Three" uniting.

LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach for an average base salary of $18.3 million over six seasons. Because of the "structure salary" ways of the NBA, this was done through a "sign and trade" with the Cavs (only his current team, Cavs, could offer him a six-year deal).

The amount at which other teams could have maxed James out was $95.5 million over five seasons (an average of $19.1 million, according to CNBC - obviously, more money than he ultimately took.

Let's face it. Nobody is going to throw LeBron a "pity party" for taking $1 less, or feel awful because he's "underpaid" at $18.3 million a year.

The point of the story though is he did take less money. He did it for the sole reason of winning championships.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony must now take the same course of action.

Melo is at that point of his career in which nothing else matters except winning. He's been a superstar of the league for many years. He's been a scoring champion. He's very well-off financially. It is now time for him to show his true worth, his selflessness and will to win.

With Phil Jackson assuming all basketball operation responsibilities, there is a question on whether Anthony is even wanted back in the city.

Through an "opt-out" clause in his contract, Carmelo can leave the Knicks and test the free-agent waters as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Before the 2013-14 season started, Melo actually presented that idea as one he'd like to pursue.

He described the possibility of becoming a free agent a "Dream" scenario, according to ESPN. Aside from the ridiculousness of making those comments before a brand new season, we must focus on what the present situation is.

The Knicks can offer the 29-year-old Melo a max-contract of $129 million over six years ($25.8 million average), while other teams can go as far as $95 million over four years ($23.75 million average), according to RotoWorld.

The first question is this: Does Phil Jackson even want this guy back? Is Carmelo Anthony a guy that Phil can envision building a team around?

Regardless of that first all-important question, Melo cannot come back to the Knicks if he wants to collect $25.8 million per year.

Throughout his entire career, Anthony has been tagged as a "non-team guy." While he scores in buckets, his personality has been one that reflects more of a selfish attitude. Whether it was New York or Denver, the questions have always loomed.

All of that nonsense can end immediately if he takes less money this summer and remains a Knick.

Nobody can win championships on their own (see LeBron in Cleveland). Taking less money (around the $18 million per season mark) will allow the Knicks to load up on two more guys of his stature, laying the foundation of a championship team.

The free agent class of 2015 is loaded with guys who'll be aching to be scooped up (Love, Irving, Rondo, Rubio, Aldridge, to name a few). This class coincides with New York having major cap liabilities coming off the books.

Perfect timing.

If Anthony takes the max of $25.8 million, it will lead to more of the same in New York: frustrated players, coaches and, most importantly, fans. There will not be enough room under the salary cap to fit stars in. Major draft-magic needs to take place to offset that, and the Knicks have very few picks to speak of.

Above what Melo is thinking, Jackson must be thinking along these lines: Welcome Anthony back with open arms if he's willing to take a little less, or boot him out of town if he's thinking max-money.

Let's just hope the "zen master" works his magic. One thing's for sure: It will be fascinating to watch.

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