Executives from several NBA franchises now believe that Carmelo Anthony won’t sign his next contract until LeBron James decides where he plans to play next season, according to a report.
The New York Knicks expected Anthony to announce his intentions as early as Monday. However, the 30-year-old hasn’t revealed his plans to the Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers or any of his other suitors, fueling speculation that he’s waiting for James in order to determine if the pair will be able to play together next season. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the “last five teams” with whom he’d spoken had broached the subject.
“He wants to see what LeBron does,” one source told ESPN.com. “But he can’t wait forever.”
As early as June, rumors circulated that Miami Heat team president Pat Riley had explored the feasibility of bringing Anthony to South Beach. Miami’s claustrophobic salary cap situation has all but ruled out that possibility, unless free agent forward Chris Bosh decides to sign with the Houston Rockets. In the meantime, league executives believe that Anthony remains interested in teaming up with James in Los Angeles or Miami.
The Knicks have made it clear that they’re willing to offer Anthony a five-year, $129 million max contract. Meanwhile, the Lakers can offer as much as $96 million over four years. The two franchises are considered the front-runners in the race to acquire his services, while the Chicago Bulls have emerged as a third option.
Throughout their courtship of Anthony, the Knicks have expressed confidence that their free agent superstar would buy in to president Phil Jackson’s vision for the team's future. However, Anthony’s continued hesitation is a source of growing concern among team officials, the New York Post reported.