Assuming that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all remain with the Miami Heat, Carmelo Anthony is set to be the biggest prize on the free agent market this year.
However, that could all change as Knicks president Phil Jackson has asked his star player to opt in for one more year in New York.
Jackson said: “I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it's like for a year, and go out the next year.”
The benefits of opting out for Anthony are clear. The small forward wishes to chase an NBA championship, and his best chance of doing so looks to be away from New York.
The Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers have been suggested as possible destinations, and both teams would offer a better opportunity than the Knicks. The Bulls have a roster already set to contend for a title, and the Lakers have cap space and a proven record of bringing in top-level talent.
However, if the 30-year-old decides that his future lies in New York, he is best served opting into the final year of his contract.
Anthony is set to make $23.3 million next year and will certainly be offered a maximum-level salary in his next contract, whether that is in this offseason or the next.
If the small forward waits a season and signs a new four-year deal in 2015, that contract will stretch another year, past his 35th birthday. If he re-signs this year, he will only be 34 when his next contract ends.
The financial benefit is clear – opting out means one more year of max-level money, as it is unlikely that he will be offered a similar deal in his mid-thirties.
Also, becoming a free agent in 2015 would open up Anthony's options far more than this season. Assuming Amare Stoudemire opts in for his final year, the Knicks' cap space is tied up in their current players and they would be unable to add other pieces.
With plenty of teams likely to clear cap space, the Knicks star will have his pick of destinations across the league. He could even bring a one or two stars with him to New York, creating a big three situation similar to that in Miami.
Anthony may still wish to escape the mess in New York as quickly as possible, but Jackson is right, there are clear benefits to sticking it out for one more year.