If Anthony talks free agency, should the Wizards talk back?

If Anthony talks free agency, should the Wizards talk back?
October 17, 2013, 11:45 am
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Carmelo Anthony wants to be a free agent. 

After the upcoming 2013-14 season, the New York Knicks forward can make it happen.

Now that Anthony put this free agency notion out there in a recent interview with the New York Observer, the obvious question is would the NBA's leading scorer really leave the Knicks.

From a local perspective, two other queries emerge: 1) would the Baltimore native consider a return to the DMV and join the playoff-pushing Washington Wizard? 2) If given the chance, should the Wizards, who will potentially have some workable salary cap space next summer, make it happen?

Anthony and the Knicks face Washington Thursday night in Baltimore. Coverage on CSN starts at 7 p.m.

“I want to be a free agent,” Anthony told the New York Observer during a recent interview. “I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.”

Anthony, acquired originally by the Knicks in a blockbuster trade with Denver, can opt out of the final year of his contract that would pay him $23.3 million for the 2014-15 season. According to ESPN NewYork, Anthony would then be eligible for a five-year, $129 million deal should he then re-sign with the Knicks. If the forward bolts altogether, he could sign with another franchise for four years and just shy of $96 million.

Based on those financials plus the allure of New York City, the odds suggest that Anthony sticks around Madison Square Garden unless he's cool with leaving somewhere around $33 million on the table.

However, what if he tests the theory that if he's made it in New York*, he can make it anywhere and thus decides to walk. At that point, should the Wizards run full out in order to court and sign Anthony?

(*) NBA title or not - and that's unlikely this season - there have been All-Star and playoff appearances plus the scoring title

With $22 million worth of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza contracts coming off the books, Washington will have cap space, perhaps enough to sign Anthony's level of free agent. The total amount available remains uncertain. The Wizards must decide this month whether to pick up the fourth-year options for Jan Vesely (likely) and Chris Singleton (hmmm).

Regardless, if Anthony is available and management wants him, others can be moved. Seeing as fellow small forwards Martell Webster, who just signed a lucrative free agent contract this summer and rookie Otto Porter are already on the roster, some roster shuffling would occur.

Speaking of contracts, inking Anthony, who turns 30 next May, to one probably means the Wizards couldn't offer Bradley Beal a fat extension. John Wall's came entering his fourth season which for Beal would be the summer of 2015.

Perhaps the better question is can the Wizards entice a mega free agent like Anthony to sign on the dotted line. Al Harrington's signing and positive take on the team's image improvements aside, history suggests probably not. Of course, most of the franchise's history over the past 25 years involves losing. Many projections for the 2013-14 season have the Wizards not just in the postseason mix but earning a one of the eight slots in the Eastern Conference.

Now, simply reaching the playoffs isn't enough to flip the free agent switch seeing as more than half the league gets that far. However, should the Wizards advance, they do have a chance to create some Golden State-level buzz thanks to the backcourt dynamic with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Don't think Andre Iguodola signs with the Warriors if Steph Curry and Klay Thompson don't excite the masses during the early rounds of the last year's playoffs.

Now let's get to the question teased twice already: If available, should the Wizards pursue Carmelo Anthony?

Considering the expected rise in Wall's play this season to All-Star caliber, considering Beal's potential breakout season, adding a player with Anthony's ball hog reputation would certainly change the dynamic. 

Considering the franchise's history, that wouldn't be a bad thing. If the current players end up doing that on their own this upcoming season, then it could be.