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LeBron James’ Opt Out Makes Carmelo Anthony An Afterthought

This summer was supposed to be Melo Time; but keeping in tune with how their careers have developed, LeBron James has once again stolen Carmelo Anthony’s thunder.

This summer was supposed to be Melo Time; but keeping in tune with how their careers have developed, LeBron James has once again stolen Carmelo Anthony’s thunder. On Tuesday, James’ agent informed the NBA that King James will opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and become a free agent on July 1. 

James had until June 30 to opt out of his final two-years with Miami. He’s eligible to sign a 5-year, $127 million pact if he re-signs with the Heat or a maximum 4-year/$94.8 million deal if he signs with any other team. (I can just see the fans in Cleveland now preparing for heartbreak. TSL reported in the past that there’s a chance the prodigal son could return to the Cavs, but LeBron pulled that trick on them before. Twice might be too much for his faithful fans and disgruntled ex-supporters to endure)

“Melo just became chopped liver” said a caller on ESPN’s Colin Cowherd show. With LeBron on the market, it’s inevitable that teams will reassess its free agent strategies to include a possibility of bringing the best player in the game to town. Melo never could beat LeBron when it mattered. Regular season games don’t mean much when you’re sparring with basketball gods and chasing the legendary ghosts of yesteryear. Melo’s been paid like a player who makes championship runs and carries teams to the threshold of greatness. The Knicks traded away everything in MSG plus the bathroom toilets to nab Melo. They did everything in their marketing powers to make him feel like The King of New York. He just couldn’t deliver with the supporting cast he was handed.

Anthony made it clear at the beginning of the 2013 season that he would opt out and pursue free agency at season’s end. He was looking forward to being wined and dined and treated like the champion he has yet to become. We thought it was going to be an open-lane, blazing hot summer for Melo as his name would trend on Twitter and he'd leap to unrivaled celebrity heights with the consistency of Edwin Moses at his peak.


While everyone was sure Melo would be opting out when the time came, no one was sure what LBJ would do, especially coming off a failed bid for a three-peat. Would he stay in Miami and complete some unfinished business with an aging Dwayne Wade and increasingly ineffective Chris Bosh? Or would he choose to once again bounce to greener pastures?


As the media machine and social media exchange has dominated the sports conversation with World Cup and Carmelo news, the Knicks free agent seems to be enjoying every minute of it just as he anticipated. The wining and dining is soon to come. Rumors have it that Chicago is in the lead for Melo’s services and The Knicks and Houston Rockets are also in contention. At this point in free agency, everything is speculation and you can’t rely on the reporting of even the shrewdest and most well-connected NBA insiders, as evidenced by LeBron’s unexpected dip to Miami in 2011. It sent shockwaves throughout The League. 

Carmelo has said that his first priority is winning a championship and positioning himself to do so as he approaches the last half decade of his prime years. He’s always seen himself on the same level as his close friend LBJ, despite carrying a duffle bag full of accolades compared to LeBron’s treasure chest. In Melo’s mind he just hasn’t found the perfect situation yet. Regardless of what fans and media pundits say, Melo believes he can be that kind of dude. In his heart, he knows he possesses a champion's chops. It’s got to be hard to be one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA, but nobody cares because there’s a guy from your draft class who has immortalized himself as a worthy comparison to Michael Jordan and other Mt. Rushmore representatives.

Those numerous conversations with LeBron must have been very therapeutic and a swift reality check for Melo, who had already thrown in the towel before the Knicks tipped off a treacherous 37-45 season. It’s obvious my man Don from Queens (Melo’s personal driver) is not pumping Aloe Blacc’s, "The Man"  anymore in Melo’s black truck.


Anthony has finally come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat em’, then join em’. It always seems to go back to that in the NBA these days.

Anthony has more ego than James. Running away from a challenge and taking the easy route to greatness probably bothers the B-More bomber a bit. Far more than it did LeBron, who was already accepting of the fact that he needed another Hall of Famer to help save his legacy. LeBron knew his Cleveland window was shut. Melo’s not really sure about NY. He desperately wanted to succeed in The Rotten Apple and I’m sure Phil Jackson is spitting some unbelievable, panty-dropping game at Melo to get him to stay and take less money.


Unfortunately for Phil, it seems Melo has studied LBJ’s blue print to the letter. He’s playing it close to the vest and not giving any hints to his next destination. Everything and everyone is a possibility at this point. Sounds familiar?

Melo is showing more love to the media whores than Drake does to the common small city stripper, by providing them with free reign to assume, predict, guess and compose outlandish scenarios until his plan materializes.

People forget that LeBron James had a secret plan with Wade and Bosh working all along. The media and foolish fans from every NBA city that supposedly had a “legit” shot at bagging "The King" were totally unaware that the only "decision" being made was how these guys were going to work the numbers to make the triumvirate a reality.

It isn't farfetched to believe that Melo and 'Bron have been orchestrating a great escape for some time now. Melo planted the seeds of possibility a year ago. LeBron’s already done this before. He doesn’t hold any personal obligations to anyone, especially the Heat, a squad he took from titanic to terrific during his four straight finals appearances and two c’hips there.

It would be colossal, and to some another devastating blow to the NBA’s competitive balance, if Melo and LeBron found a way to team up. The only cats that would be for it are the fans in the city where these two land. Some are talking Philly. Maybe even New York. The typical banter from entitled Lakers fans is abundant as well. Mark Cuban’s Mavs have even been mentioned. In fact, The Daily News lists them as 8-1 odds to land Melo.



The next month is sure to be one of the most engaging and exciting in NBA history as there has never been two free agents of this caliber available and on the market for anyone with the fortunate financial flexibility to scoop. (Two potential Hall of Famers and it could have been three, but Duncan is re-upping with the San Antonio Spurs for an 18th season, completing the final year of his contract for $10.3 million). This summer we will hear and see some crazy things as the free agency frenzy has now gone from interesting to insane with LeBron’s arrival.


Melo’s seat at the front of the table has been pulled and he’s been moved one seat to the right. It’s becoming increasingly clear that he doesn’t have a problem with that. The money isn’t an issue. If that was the case, he'd just skip the theatrics and re-sign with the Knicks. Melo saying back in 2013 that he wanted to experience the thrill and adulation of free agency was the worst excuse I've heard from a guy who already has everything – other than a ring. He was buying time all season, and La La helped him out in January by saying he wouldn’t leave New York , knowing that was a bold-faced lie. She’s a ride-or-die chick, so I’m not going to knock her for that pipe dream of hope she made New Yorkers smoke.

In similiar feed-the-fiend fashion, predictions, expert analysis and investigative reporting will saturate your sports content this NBA summer. The league loves this, because it keeps the NBA relevant throughout the offseason and the money machine keeps rolling. Chopped liver or not, Melo will hold no personal guilt if he bounces on NY. What’s good enough for The King is good enough for a Dark Knight in search of similar glory

 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.