There’s something about Carmelo

Has there been a bigger letdown than this Carmelo Anthony business? Not since “a change we can believe in” has such a supposed sure thing crushed the abnormally piqued hopes of the average public. A three team mega-trade was reported as closer than close to being inked. A superstar was headed to New York (metro area…so not really the New York you visit, but the one that has the airport and the commuters’ houses and the golf courses). And then…nothing…emotional excitement downgraded to ‘pending’. Actually, that’s not true.

The whole thing took me back to 9th grade. I had snuck into a rated R movie with my friends. It was going to be a raunchy good time, laughing hysterically at Ben Stiller zip his bits in his fly, Cameron Diaz put gel in her hair, and Matt Dillon play football with handicapped kids. Of course, that dream ended abruptly when the bright lights of the opening credits illuminated the unmistakable thinning, white perm of my grandmother, sitting two rows up. Gone was the promise of a great spectacle, replaced by the torture of trying not to laugh. A should have been great experience relegated to the disappointing category of the ‘almost but not quite’ – which would go on to happen a lot more in college, albeit, in a different capacity.*

Of course, in this present scenario, I am not the one that had to hide for fear of being seen. I believe that distinction was beholden to Nets general manager, Billy King, as he surely attempted to avoid having to tell to his Russian employer, Net’s owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, why he failed so miserably.

The piece of the Carmelo puzzle that is cause for the most consternation for King and other GM’s is his contract and its conjoining effect with the Collective Bargaining negotiations. That consternation has obviously been the root of all the Carmelo trade constipation. (Sorry, that was too tempting.)

Though Carmelo could be a free agent this coming summer, his contract, one must remember, is not expiring after this season. Melo has an Early Termination Option allowing him to decide when he becomes a free agent, this summer or the next. If he opts out this summer, he forfeits the $18,518,574 he could earn by sticking with the contract until it expires in the summer of 2012.

Remember that $18 million. According to Mike Ozanian at Forbes: (David Stern) wants to lop $750 million off of player costs, lowering the portion of basketball-related revenue that goes to players from 57% to around 40%.

Knocking $25 million of player expenditures per team (750 / 30 teams) does not seem too likely. But as a starting point for the Stern side of the negotiations, it certainly means the salary cap will be shrinking. If it did happen and Carmelo chooses to opt out, he would have a hard time making up the $18 million he left on his contract, much less the $65 million dollar extension he has refused to sign.

If the salary cap dips from its current figure into the $40’s million, Carmelo stands to lose a lot. From a fiscal perspective, this would seem to indicate that Carmelo would at least hold onto his contract for one more year.**

* Even though she never saw me, looking back, I am sure it was much worse for her. Thinking she was in for a heartwarming rom-com, Booty (I couldn’t say her name, Ruth, as a baby, much less the Ruthy for which she initially pined) instead was subjected to the prime of the Farrelly Brothers.

** (tongue firmly planted in cheek) My interpretation is framed in much the same scenario of that of Ingrid Bergman’s character, Ilsa Lund, in Casablanca. I am going to traverse the limb and assume I am not spoiling a great movie, but in perhaps the most iconic scene in cinema history, Lund stands before an awaiting propeller plane with a choice between two lives:

True love and less wealth (though still enough to scrape by) represented by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine VS the financial security offered by Paul Henreid’s boring and stiff Victor Laszlo.

Does Carmelo follow the tugs on his heart being pulled by his wife, LaLa Vazquez and her career aspirations? In which case, Carmelo opts out of the last year of his contract and heads to New York, the money be danged.

Or does he accept that perhaps his greatest chance at assured financial security lies on a less glamorous but more steadfast path? In which case, a team like your Houston Rockets acquires him for at least a season.

“If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”

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