As of Thursday, the hunt for Carmelo Anthony got a little bit clearer when he received max offers from two teams. Those teams were the Los Angeles Lakers (4 years and 95 million) and the New York Knicks (5 years and 129 million). The hunt got even clearer when we found out Melo is expected to agree to the Knicks offer soon (but who knows). The Lakers dropped off a lot of contracts at the end of the 2014 year which granted them plenty of money to play with without losing Kobe Bryant. Phil Jackson and his Knicks dumped off Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to really open up their cap space so that they could give Melo a pretty max deal offer. Both teams are in need of someone like Melo to get them back (or start to get them back) to an elite status like they once were. Melo is a gifted pure scorer and can even grab a decent number of rebounds every night depending on where you place him in the lineup. He is a consistent All-Star and deserves a large amount of respect for that, however this is a lot of money to throw his way. Call me crazy, but I do not think Carmelo Anthony is worth a four to five year max contract at this point in his career for any team in the NBANow before I go into further explanation let me say that when it comes to deserving players that should or could be offered a max long term deal, my list is very small and they have to satisfy all or at least a few of these requirements:
Considered in the top five players in the league at the current time
Have won or made it to the Finals as a leading member (cannot be the only satisfied requirement)
Won an MVP award (cannot be the only satisfied requirement)
Can visibly play both ends at an elite and efficient level
Member of an All-NBA First Team
Under the age of 28 (cannot be the only satisfied requirement)
The players that satisfy at least two of those requirements in my mind are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook as my "right on the line candidate". In my mind those are the top six players in the league and all of them satisfy at least two of the above specifications. Many of you will give me hate because I listed Russell Westbrook over someone like Carmelo or Kobe, but he shows an immense amount of promise when his head is on straight and more importantly he is only 25 years old. Each of these guys can score at a high level, defend at an elite level (aside from Griffin to an extent), and they have shown consistency on both sides of the floor overall. I would talk about why Kobe isn't on this list, but in reality anyone that is questioning why he is not on the list is just not being completely honest to themselves about the Black Mamba actually being human and getting too old, but lets get back to Melo.
Carmelo Anthony is a 7-time All-Star, an NBA scoring champion (2013), and has made the All-NBA Second Team twice (2010, 2013). He is a career 25 ppg scorer, and posted just over 27 ppg in 2014 along with 8.1 rebounds. Those are some really nice stats and accomplishments for any player, but he does not meet even one of the requirements above to be worthy of a max deal in my mind. He is a top ten player, hasn't ever made it to the NBA Finals, has never won an MVP, can't really play the defensive end of the floor very well, and is 30 years old. Set aside most of those facts and the most important part here is his age. You can say he has not had the right team, or he's been playing behind Kobe/LeBron/KD's shadows, or even that he just got unlucky a lot of the time, but regardless of all of those statements he is still entering his 12th NBA season and time is not going to go any slower. Melo played 38.7 minutes last season to reach those averages and even though that is what he had to do with the team around him, there is no way he can play at that same level for the next four years. He has a one sided approach to the game and even though scoring is the main focus of the game, he needs other options. At some point, he will not have the energy to put up numbers like that every night and once that happens people will start to see the important holes in his game.
On the other hand if you give Carmelo a team that is worth playing with, he will not have to work so hard offensively and it probably will not wear on him as much. Put him on a team where he only needs to worry about his scoring and there will not be issues at all. Somewhere like Chicago would be great for him because there he can hide behind the Bulls' already elite defense or even Houston with Dwight Howard. However in LA and New York, Carmelo would be the leader (or co-leader) of that respective team which means he will still have to try and shoot the lights out every night and rely on that over a full well-rounded game. Is his scoring valuable? Of course. He is one of the best in the league at what he does, but to me that is not worth a long term max deal at his age. It is not a dreadful decision by either team to offer him this in their times of need, but in the long run I do not think they will get what they want out of it. I do honestly want Carmelo to win, and I think he could in Chicago or Houston rather than the Lakers or Knicks. However with the lack of cap space and willingness to pay him so much, Bulls and Rockets may miss out on this chance. Again we know that Anthony is expected to accept the Knicks offer and stay with Phil Jackson but we never truly know. Anthony said originally that he wants to to win now rather than take a load of cash and soon enough we will finally see if he can walk the walk and pick a team that can accomplish just that.