The difference between Carmelo Anthony’s existing contract and the one he could have received as a free agent under the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement comes out to a total of $5.8 million over the same four years.
$82.69 million is the total value of Anthony’s existing contract, which arose out of the extend-and-trade transaction sending Anthony from Denver to the Knicks before the trade deadline last season. Had Anthony opted to terminate his contract and become a free agent in the coming days, he would have been eligible for a maximum-salary contract of $76.89 million over a period from this 2011-12 season through the 2014-15 season, the identical term of his existing contract.
Note that the extension Anthony did sign was built off the $18.52 million option year he held in this 2011-12 season. Any new free-agent max deal would have reset and started at $18.01 million. That lower starting point and the lesser annual raises of 4.5% – compared to the 10.5% annual raises that governed Anthony’s contract under the previous CBA – account for the $5.8 million of compensation that Anthony would have lost by becoming a free agent on December 9. Essentially Anthony would have taken a seven percent reduction in pay.
In the months before the trade to New York, Anthony gave mixed signals about his willingness to wait for free agency and risk a new salary cap that could significantly decrease his earning capacity. But it was believed that Anthony’s representatives at Creative Arts Agency were determined that their client would have the security of a signed deal before the CBA expired. The Nets were in the hunt to trade for Anthony and extend his contract, and the Nuggets reportedly preferred the Nets’ offer, both teams hoping anxiety about the impending labor dispute would compel Anthony to sign off on a move to New Jersey.
At the time, some at ESPN were predicting that Anthony could face dramatic salary compression approaching $40 million if he passed on the extension and tested free agency this season.
Existing Contract Under Previous CBA
Hypothetical Contract Under New CBA