- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Carmelo Anthony's top priority in free agency is to put himself in position to win a title.
We don’t know where money ranks on his list of priorities, but we assume it’ll factor in to the final decision.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the offers from each of Anthony’s suitors and approximately how much money he’d be leaving on the table if he left New York:
New York: The Knicks on Thursday verbally offered Anthony a max deal of $129 million over five years. This offer is the largest contract in terms of total dollars that any team can offer Anthony. Any other Anthony suitor can offer a maximum of only $96 million over four years.
Chicago: The Bulls can either sign Anthony as a free agent or execute a sign-and-trade to acquire him. If they want to keep their core of Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott in tact, the most Chicago will be able to offer Anthony is a four-year deal starting at approximately $17 million a year. That would give Anthony about $70 million over the life of his contract, so he’d have to take a pay cut of approximately $60 million in total to sign in Chicago.
Los Angeles: The Lakers made it clear to Anthony during their Thursday meeting with him that they are prepared to offer him a max contract, according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. That means Anthony can make $96 million over four years in Los Angeles. That also means that Los Angeles would have approximately $46 million dedicated to Anthony and Kobe Bryant next season. Bryant will be in the first season of a two-year, $48.5 million extension. The salary cap is set at $62.5 million, so the Lakers front office would have to spend wisely in filling out the rest of the roster.
Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki re-signed with the Mavs on Thursday for a contract worth approximately $30 million over three years. Nowitzki left a lot of money on the table, but it may not be enough to attract Anthony. According to ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon, the Nowitzki deal leaves Mavs owner Mark Cuban with approximately $17 million in cap space. Let’s say Cuban uses all of it on Anthony (which he wouldn’t). That would leave Anthony with a contract worth approximately $70 million over four years. So Anthony would have to take a pay cut of approximately $60 million in total dollars to sign with Dallas -- the same as he would with Chicago.
Houston: The Rockets hopes to be in position to offer Anthony or LeBron James a maximum contract in free agency. If they can create enough cap space to do so (dealing away Jeremy Lin is a prerequisite to getting there), then they can offer Anthony a four-year, $96 million contract. That’s $33 million less in total dollars than the deal that Anthony can sign with the Knicks. Of course, the Knicks’ offer is for five years. So Anthony can sign a new contract after his four-year pact with Houston expires. He will make up some of the $33 million difference in the first year of his new contract. But it’s highly unlikely that Anthony would sign a deal worth more in the first season than the $29 million he’d earn in the final year of his contract with the Knicks.
Question: If you were Anthony, which destination would you choose given the contract offers in front of you?
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25mSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann