Yes, you should want Carmelo Anthony

Daniel Rapaport —  July 3, 2014 — 320 Comments

The absolute chaos formally known as the NBA’s annual free agency period toys with fans’ imaginations each and every year. In an instant, a team’s fanbase can go from being depressed about what the next five years will look like to fantasizing about a starting five that includes every marquee free agent. I have to admit that during this free agency period, I’ve fallen into the trap. You guys, I’m really, really excited about having even a slight chance of landing Carmelo Anthony. And you should be too.

There’s a belief among a troubling amount Lakers fans on the Twittersphere that the purple blue and gold should not offer Carmelo the maximum 4-year, $97 million dollar contract that they’ve put on the table. Those who believe this claim that Carmelo isn’t a “winning player” because he’s yet to make it to the Finals in his first eleven years in the league. And while I respect the passion of the fanbase (it’s what makes ours the greatest in the sport), I feel as though the anti-Carmelo camp needs a stern talking to from the voice of reason. And I personally volunteer to act as the voice of reason.

I’d like to start by dispelling the rumors that Carmelo isn’t a winner. Sure, Carmelo hasn’t enjoyed deep playoff runs during his stellar career. But last season was the first of his career that he missed the playoffs. Carmelo has been the first option on every team he’s ever played on, so it’s not like he’s riding the coattails of other superstars, also. Clearly, Carmelo knows what it takes to win in the NBA. To knock the dude for not having won a championship is lazy; as a certain team from South Florida has shown, one, and probably even two, superstars aren’t enough to get a title in today’s NBA. I have zero doubts that if given a sublime supporting cast like LeBron was in Miami, Carmelo could contend and win championships.

And as Melo passes the 30 benchmark and heads toward the tail end of his career, you have to believe his main focus above all will be winning. He’s looking for his Miami, a place to go and join other players that he can trust in order to get that elusive championship. And for those of you who have watched Carmelo play for Team USA, you know that when he wants to be, he can move the ball very well within an offense and isn’t always the gunner ball-stopping type that his haters label him as. If he leaves New York, he’ll be desperate to win, no matter what it takes.

Kobe and Carmelo’s friendship has been well-documented and probably a bit exaggerated by the media these past couple days. But it’s true that the two are very close and that Kobe admires and respects Carmelo, and we all know that Kobe doesn’t give compliments easily. They’ve won two gold medals together and both share the ability to hit mind-blowingly difficult fadeaway jump shots (they probably don’t bond over this, but I have an image in my mind of the two playing absolutely epic HORSE games that last until the early morning). So the locker-room chaos that took place last year with Dwight having such a different approach to his job than Kobe and Nash wouldn’t realistically be an issue.

I’m somewhat confident in suggesting that Laker fans do, and should, trust Phil Jackson’s judgement. Hell, Phil is a borderline deity to Laker fans, and rightfully so. So my question is this: If Phil badly wants to keep Carmelo in New York, shouldn’t you want him in Los Angeles? Phil Jackson understands the inconvenient truth that these type of players don’t come along too often, and when they do, you simply can’t let them walk despite the fact that sometimes they may shoot too often.

Let’s be honest here. Signing Carmelo is virtually the only chance the Lakers have to get Kobe his coveted 6th ring, which seems to be the number one priority for the front office whether you agree with it or not. That’s why it blows my mind that some people truly believe the team would be in a better position to win and win soon without Carmelo. When you accept the reality that the Lakers have no shot of landing LeBron, it becomes shockingly evident that the Lakers don’t have many options here. Some are proposing LAL sign a younger player whose best days are ahead of him, like a Lance Stephenson or an Eric Bledsoe type. But those type of players are still 2 or 3 years away from entering what I like to call “prime championship years.” While your physical prime might come around 25, it takes more than being in your physical prime to win championships. It’s during a player’s late 20’s/early 30’s, when he’s still in the tail end of his physical prime while simultaneously understanding what it takes mentally to be a champion that he’s most likely to win (see James, LeBron or Jordan, Michael). Carmelo is in his championship prime. He’s ready to win now.

Lastly, let’s revisit just how special of a player Carmelo is. Sure, he has his flaws, but I don’t think people realize just how good Carmelo Kyam (isn’t that a sweet middle name) has been over the past two seasons. Over the past two years, he’s averaging exactly 28 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists on 45% FG, 39% 3FG and 83.9% from the line. For those of you who claim he’s not efficient, he’s finished in the top-10 in each of the past two seasons in Player Effeciency Rating. Those are bonafide superstar-in-his-prime numbers. And that’s exactly what Carmelo Anthony is- a superstar in his prime.

When you have the opportunity to get a superstar in his prime, you should be pumped.


Daniel Rapaport

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320 responses to Yes, you should want Carmelo Anthony

  1. As good as Kobe was pre-knee injury, he was still a shell of what he was when he teamed with Shaq. Go back and look at those playoff games the last two years he won titles with Shaq. Kobe was a defensive monster and rim protector in his own right. Since then, he has kept his offense at a very high level but allowed his defense to slip; not unlike the aging Elgin. Players that get 1/3 of the team’s cap need to be excellent two-way players to justify the lower quality players that will fill in the team. Kobe is not that guy anymore.

  2. gene – the salary cap has been around since the mid-’80s (see answer #5 here: http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm ). In Jordan’s rookie season it was $3.6m. It’s been adjusted through successive CBAs since (obviously). Those huge MJ contracts in the mid-’90s were thanks to the usual exemptions regarding signing your own FAs. He took what he was worth. The Bulls had the benefit of Pippen being on a super-low deal (under $2.5m), and after Jordan, the next guy was Rodman at $9m.

    Feel free to scroll down this link to see their payroll for ’96-’97(the first of Jordan’s $30m+ seasons): http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/CHI/1997.html

  3. Regarding Kobe’s contract.

    Sometimes, it’s just loyalty and a classy company. Imagine an employee, who worked so hard to get all the way to the top. She’s 62 and the retiring age is 65. Would you promote her in her final 3 years or would you promote someone who’s so young and talented. Yes, for a small club, you would make that decision to hire that young individual. It would be a smart decision.

    For the Lakers, you promote that person who’s worked so hard for the company; that’s how you treat loyalty and that’s how you improve morale. You let it known that you take care of your players/employees and don’t leave them hanging. And that might be another reason why Melo would go for the Lakers.

  4. btshann:

    I admire your post–best one in days.

    Not to quibble or wallow in the mire, but I must inquire, was it your desire to spell choir, “quire”? 🙂

  5. @rr – That’s not exactly accurate. The salary cap dates back to the ’40s. Jordan and the Bulls were able to skirt it, in large part, because Pippen played on an absurdly low deal (something along the lines of $1.5 million).

    Give a quick look at this excerpt from Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQs:

    “It may surprise you to learn that the NBA first had a salary cap in 1946-47, its first season. The cap that season was $55,000, with most players earning between $4,000 and $5,000. Star player Joe Fulks earned $8,000, and Tom King earned a league-highest $16,500 for his combined duties as player, publicity director and business manager for the Detroit Falcons.

    The “modern” NBA salary cap began in 1984-85, at $3.6 million. It made steady but gradual increases of around $1-2 million each season until 1994-95, when it was $15.964 million. Armed with a big TV contract from NBC, the salary cap jumped to $23.0 million in 1995-96, and increased to $26.9 million in 1997-98, the last season of the 1995 CBA (a 647% increase in 13 years).”

  6. I didn’t make the comment about the cap; gene did.

  7. I now feel like I can’t jinx it. It’s going to happen. So let me tell you why Melo and LBJ are probably coming to the lakers. Always follow the money. The Lakers can offer more money to LeBron than anyone else. His ensoreemt deals more than make up for the five million a year he would be leaving on the table. Now for Melo it’s different. He was already in NYC but the lakerwrs have a worldwide fanbase. But he isn’t as marketable as LeBron. It wouldn’t have made up the five million dollar difference. Or should I say it would have but not substantially. What really changed everything for Melo was the money his wife would make each year in LA. Always follow the money.

  8. Oh Aaron

    how do you come up with this stuff, pure genius.

  9. @AusPhil & @gene: My bad on the redundant post, must’ve missed it before commenting.

    @rr: Right you are buddy. Mea culpa once again.

    @bryan S.: Ha ha, man, like I said, I was ranting. Spelling comes second to finishing what I’d intended to be a short paragraph or two…Apparently discipline isn’t my forte.

  10. btshann,
    you are my new hero. terrific post.

    rr,
    you continue to claim that Kobe did nothing wrong in fine print, yet you question his priorities, suggesting that he is being selfish, while questioning his desire for a winning roster. you are part of the mob that btshann is referring to.

  11. you continue to claim that Kobe did nothing wrong in fine print, yet you question his priorities, suggesting that he is being selfish, while questioning his desire for a winning roster. you are part of the mob that btshann is referring to.

    As you see it. I have made my POV on the issue clear multiple times, and as I said before, if I thought Kobe had done something wrong, I would say so. The fact that you are either unable to grasp the distinction or are simply engaging in internet mind-reading is a failing of your own. I supported the players in the last lockout, and I will support them in the next one, so I agree with most of the philosophy behind btshann’s post and Kobe’s decision. As I said in this very thread, no one has ever bought a ticket to watch Jim Buss. And I agreed with most of what Zach Lowe said about the CBA today at Grantland.

    But philosophies don’t win NBA games. Talent does, and giving Kobe the contract that they did will almost certainly make it harder for Buss and Kupchak to get the talent needed to get the franchise off the deck. The supposed benefits of the deal are all distant, intangible, unprovable, emotional, or financial. I don’t like the deal for the simplest reasons of all: basketball reasons.

  12. @Robert, best post I’ve seen so far:
    “Site: It appears as though the site has a “hard cap” of 300. We need to get back under 300 so earlier posts are readable. Does anyone want to “opt out” of any of their posts so we can get back under the cap?”

    @Aaron, I just don’t see the Lakers being able to pull off getting both LBJ and Melo. LaLa may make more in LA, but I don’t think even Joel Silver can turn her into a legit star. Then again, I guess if he can turn Keanu Reeves into one, who knows.

    What I think is really going on may show Pat Riley’s genius. To win, you not only want to get better, but you also want to weaken your opponents. What better way is there to have all your closest competitors trade away valuable assets in a futile attempt to open up cap space(Houston), and have them hold off on signing potential free agents that might help them(Bulls) while other teams snatch them up, than to have them think they are going to sign LBJ, Bosh, etc. Brilliant! Tomorrow, when the Heat sign LBJ, Bosh, Wade, AND Melo, it’s end game. Checkmate. He is like Michael Corleone(from my previous post) when he offs all his competitors in one moment.

  13. Aaron, no offense but logically speaking I fail to see how this is even remotely possible at this point for at least the following reasons:

    1. Woj just reported that Lebron is choosing between CLE and MIA.
    2. We haven’t heard anything about trading Nash into cap space which would have to be a pre-curser to the signing of Lebron and Melo.

    #1, Woj is pretty much never wrong. #2 while the Nash trade could be kept under wraps by LAL, the team taking on Nash would almost certainly have something leak to the ravenous press that had literally no stories all day in the middle of the moratorium. Also, Woj is pretty much never wrong.

  14. If you want to count beans then Kobe’s contract certainly made it harder to sign other players – by the numbers. However, business isn’t always about the numbers. Sometimes to get more money you invest in something that isn’t immediately more profitable. It is called optimizing the business, not the business deal. This is – IMO – the philosophy behind the front office offering Kobe the contract they did.

    When the entire NBA is doing ‘A’, then doing ‘B’ can set you apart. When there is even a whiff of loyalty to players by an owner, that owner can often cash in on that fact in the future. It just may not be in the immediate future. The Lakers are the best NBA brand because they know how to maintain that brand. All franchises make mistakes and all new owners make mistakes also. The Lakers seem to understand the way to recover from their mistakes. Of course all this is IMO.

  15. There is a “previous comments” button, guys. Click it and you get all the other comments too.

  16. @Lakers17

    “Tomorrow, when the Heat sign LBJ, Bosh, Wade, AND Melo, it’s end game.”

    this is impossible under the cap unless all four players take massive pay cuts. in other words, it will not happen.

  17. According to the BLS CPI Inflation Calculator:
    Jordan’s $33M in 1998 would be like getting about $48M today, rather than $43.7M.

    Conversely, Kobe’s $30M in 2013-2014 would be about $20M in Jordan’s $33M year of 1997-1998.

  18. By the way guys…one other angle to think about in regards to Randle possibly not playing in the Summer league is that perhaps the Lakers don’t want him to play because they might trade him. They could be holding him out to make sure that he doesn’t injure himself…

  19. For those of you attempting to justify Kobe’s contract by bringing up Jordan’s contract(s), if I remember correctly, his last few years with the Bulls were ONE year each. Think about what that means.

  20. … not to mention MJ was a more valuable player overall than Kobe, including Jordan’s final years as a Bull.

    There, I said it. And you know it’s true.

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