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Could the Knicks Low-Ball Carmelo Anthony During Free Agency?

While Billy King apologizes to his team for how the Carmelo Anthony trade-that-didn’t-happen played out, you can bet Donnie Walsh is pondering his next move. His basic options: orchestrate a trade for Anthony before the deadline; take his chances hoping Carmelo so desperately wants to become a Knick that he’ll reach free agency, at which point they can scoop him up; or do nothing at all.

TrueHoop’s Royce Webb argued yesterday that the Knicks shouldn’t trade for Carmelo, making the case that the cost (both in assets and, with a new CBA looming, in dollars) is too high. And he also floats this idea:

[I]f Anthony decides to go into free agency, that means he is likely willing to forgo millions of dollars and has eyes for only the Knicks, which puts the team in an incredibly strong bargaining position. Then, if the Knicks do decide they want him, they can say, “Your pals LeBron and Dwyane took less to help the Heat build out their roster, and we want you to do the same.” So perhaps they would get him for $12 million or $14 million per year, instead of $21 million or so.

This carries a risk, of course: Even if the Knicks are Anthony’s preferred destination, nothing in free agency is a slam dunk, particularly if the Knicks open up a negotiation over money. (That’s assuming, also, that another team — say, Chicago — doesn’t make a run at him before the deadline, either in hopes he’ll sign an extension, or that he’ll enjoy his time with his new team in his new city and sign there as a free agent.) Webb also argues that not trading for Anthony could take them “one step closer” to having money available in 2012, when Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard become free agents. Arranging payroll in anticipation of a future free-agent class? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Why the Knicks should wait on Melo [TrueHoop/ESPN]

Could the Knicks Low-Ball Carmelo Anthony During Free Agency?