The all-star forward hits the open market this summer. The Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers are among the teams who could tempt him away from New York.
Anthony's time as a Knick has been hit and miss since he orchestrated his own trade from the Denver Nuggets in 2011. After making the playoffs for the first three years of his tenure, including a series win over the Boston Celtics in 2013, Anthony was unable to drag the underwhelming Knicks to the postseason this year. They finished in ninth place of the dismal Eastern Conference with a 37-45 record.
Now Carmelo will head into free agency with a list of potential suitors looking to offer him a chance at a title. Here are the most likely contenders:
New York Knicks
Staying with the Knicks remains the most likely conclusion to Anthony's summer, predominantly for the same reasons he first wished to be traded there. The Big Apple is the forward's home town, and he clearly loves playing in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks' appointment of Phil Jackon as team president will likely play into his thinking – if there's one man in the NBA who brings championship experience it's the Zen Master. Melo could also decide to opt into the final year of his contract, and hit the open market during the free agency bonanza in 2015, when several high-profile names become available.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have the cap space to offer Anthony a maximum contract, and will pair the forward with his Team USA teammate Kobe Bryant. Bryant is on the hunt for his sixth NBA title in the twilight of his career, and Anthony will be attracted to the championship-or-bust atmosphere in LA. The Lakers' pedigree speaks for itself – the team has a long history of putting contending teams on the floor, and Carmelo may put his faith in the front office's ability to attract the highest caliber of player.
The Bulls already boast a roster that could go a long way in the playoffs next year, providing Derrick Rose is able to stay healthy. Adding Carmelo would make them serious challengers in the Eastern Conference. Chicago must make a number of roster moves in order to fit Carmelo under the cap, including amnestying Carlos Boozer, and the best course of action may be a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. Anthony may need to take a pay cut to play for the Bulls, but if he values titles over cash he may well take the hit to play with Rose and Joakim Noah under coach Tom Thibodeau.