The world may have been consumed with ‘What Will LeBron Do’ but what New Yorkers really wanted to know was WWMD ‘What Will Melo Do.’ The Cleveland Cavaliers were making moves for the last few years for the long-awaited return of their prodigal son, (which I called 2 years ago and many thought I was crazy) and the world waited for ‘The Decision -Part 2’ which seem to even stall every other free agent from making a decision during the 2014 off-season. After officially announcing he would take his talents back to home in hopes of bringing Cleveland its first professional championship in 50 years, the dominoes begin to fall. Bosh re-signed with the Heat, Pau Gasol left L.A. for the Bulls, even Paul Pierce says peace to BK and went to the Wizards, but NYC was still standing on pins and needles to see if Phil Jackson could convince Carmelo Anthony to stay in Gotham City.
The Chicago Bulls seem to be the last real obstacle to Melo’s return despite the fact they could only offer $30 million less. We were teased for the days following James much publicized return home with speculations of Melo leaning toward NY and final details being negotiated over his new contract. Well the wait is over, Carmelo officially re-signs with The New York Knicks.
Knicks president Phil Jackson announced the signing on Sunday. “After three months of questions around Carmelo Anthony’s return to the New York Knicks, we are now happy to know that we have the cornerstone of what we envision as a ‘team of excellence.'” Jackson said in a statement. “Steve Mills and I have assured Carmelo through our conversations, that we share the vision and the determination to build this team.”
First-year Knicks coach Derek Fisher said he was thrilled to have the chance to coach Anthony. “I have had the opportunity to be around some of the greatest players in our game, and now I have the honor of coaching Carmelo,” Fisher said in a statement. “This is an exciting time for the New York Knicks franchise and our fans. I look forward to working with him and building something special together.”
After what seemed like an eternity but was actually less than two weeks of Melo being courted by The Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers since the NBA’s free agency period opened, on July 1, Melo returns to the Knicks. New York by rule were allowed to make the most lucrative offer. Other teams could offer the former scoring champion a four-year, $96 million deal. But don’t call it a comeback, he’s been here for years. And don’t get it twisted and think it’s all about the Benjamins baby, like Cleveland is home for King James, New York is where the Brooklyn-born baller’s heart is. Can’t be mad at Anthony who had never been a free agent during his 11-year career until this month for testing the waters.
“A few years ago I dreamed of coming back to New York City, the place of my birth, and on February 23, 2011 that became a reality,” Anthony wrote on his website, ThisIsMelo.com. “This organization has supported me and in return, I want to stay and build here with this city and my team. At this pivotal juncture in my career, I owed it to myself and my family to explore all of the options available to me. Through it all, my heart never wavered. In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart. I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world.”
Much like Melo was the second-best rookie when he entered the NBA, SI.com ranked Anthony as the second-best free agent this summer, again behind LeBron James, who announced his return to the Cavaliers on Friday in an essay with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. The nine-time All-Star, who averaged 27.4 points (second-best in the NBA), a career-high 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season, has brought into the Zen masters much-needed re-tooling of the team. Anthony is one of only five players (including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Karl Malone) to average 25 points per game and six rebounds per game in his career since the NBA merger.
The New York Daily News first reported Anthony’s decision to re-sign with the Knicks. Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com both reported that Anthony’s new contract will pay him at least $120 million.