It turns out Carmelo Anthony is taking less money.
No, the seven-time All-Star didn't accept the Bulls' four-year, $73 million offer in free agency, but he didn't accept a maximum deal, as many expected he would, from the Knicks.
Last Thursday president Phil Jackson revealed that he had proposed five different offers to Anthony and that he was "confident" the free agent forward would accept one of them. Throughout the offseason there were reports that Anthony wasn't keen on taking less money if he opted for New York, despite Jackson making public comments that Anthony could help the future of the Knicks by accepting a relatively smaller deal.
It turns out that was the case, as Anthony is set to sign a five-year deal worth around $123 million, approximately $6 million less than the $129 million max contract the Knicks could have offered - and likely did offer - him.
Granted $6 million doesn't seem like a big difference when talking about nine-figure dollar amounts, but in the basketball sense it could make a world of difference to the Knicks.
“He did exactly what we kind of asked him to do," Jackson said at the Knicks' Summer League practice in Las Vegas. "Give us a break in the early part of the contract when we have some wiggle room — hopefully big enough wiggle room — next year when we can exploit it."
According to the New York Post, Anthony's "smaller" contract likely means he opted not to take a 7.5 percent increase in pay in Year 2 of his contract, and may even have taken a pay decrease in that season. That's important to note for the Knicks, who may have up to $40 million coming off their salary after this season, primarily from Andrea Bargnani's ($12 million) and Amare Stoudemire's ($23,410,988 million) expiring deals. The New York Post predicts that Anthony's pay cut will save the Knicks an additional $2 million in salary cap space for 2015.
That, of course, is notable because it's the first time the Knicks will be able to improve their roster around Anthony. Some of the potential top free agents in next summer's free agency class include Kevin Love, Goran Dragic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan. Just $2 million saved from Anthony may not seem like much, but in bidding wars where most players opt to take the highest dollar amount, every penny counts.
Particularly in Chicago, Anthony is looked at as a player who simply chased the money over a shot at a championship. But the Knicks' flexibility next offseason, combined with Anthony's buying in to what Jackson is selling could provide a positive outlook for the future in New York.
“I’m glad Carmelo has seen we have the vision and trusted us with what he implied and impressed upon us — his desire to win and be on a competitive team," Jackson said. "Our message to him is we are going to be a competitive team. It may not be instantaneous. We may not be able to just drop in and win a championship. But that’s the direction we’re going."