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The Knicks are confident that they will re-sign Carmelo Anthony to a new deal keeping the star forward in New York.  Then came Anthony's visit to the Lakers and the first big threat in taking him away from the Knicks.

Multiple reports indicate that the Lakers have moved up Anthony's list as a free agent destination. The Lakers can offer a 4-year, $97 million contract and not have to involve the Knicks in a sign and trade. With Anthony keeping a home in Los Angeles, the Lakers have become a live option (Wojnarowski (July 5th). 

The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant on a max salary, and by adding Anthony won't have a lot of more room under the cap, but the Knicks remain worried about the Lakers' pitch (ESPN, July 6).  The key selling point for the Lakers to Anthony is re-signing Pau Gasol.

 Any time a team like the Lakers can offer Anthony an opportunity to compete for a championship (alongside Kobe Bryant, one of the best to ever do it), the forward should take it into heavy consideration.

Both the Knicks and Lakers are hoping that bringing and/or keeping Gasol in the fold will help entice Anthony one way or another. Los Angeles and New York each represent the biggest markets in all of sports, so perhaps those two aspects of the decision-making process are a wash for Anthony.

There do appear to be a couple of X-Factors for each side, however. For the Lakers, it's having Bryant on board. Anthony wants to win a championship, and the star shooting guard obviously knows how to do that quite well. If the pair can develop some chemistry alongside one another, perhaps they could lead Los Angeles to another one together.

But as he comes off an injury-riddled year, one has to wonder just how much more Bryant has to offer, or if he can do so at full strength. What's more, such a window for a championship will likely only last another two years --- the duration  of Bryant's current contract. Will such a narrow shot at a title be enough for Anthony? The league's other top superstars (including those from his own respective draft class) are all chasing multiple titles.

That same respective window may not open right away for the Knicks, but when/if it does, it's likely to stay open a while longer. If the Knicks can convince Anthony to stay in the Big Apple and lead the charge, perhaps Phil Jackson has a few tricks up his sleeve that will allow the Knicks to chase another superstar or two (in addition to Anthony). This would also, assumedly, allow New York to subsequently chase more NBA titles as well. All signs indicate that that's the name of the game for Anthony.

And if such an opportunity to contend long-term isn't enough, there's always that more lucrative contract (with an extra year to tag on) that the Knicks can offer, to further motivate the forward to stay in town.

Tags: Knicks
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