Should Melo take less to help the Knicks?

Phil Jackson’s made one thing clear when it comes to Carmelo Anthony’s free agency: he wants the star forward to take a pay cut to help the Knicks.

Anthony has said in the past that he’d be open to taking less to help the team he signs with attract free agents.

So Jackson isn’t placing a demand on Anthony, he says. But he is “challenging” Anthony to keep his word.

“He’s the one that opened that up that it wasn’t about the money. So I challenged him on that because I want our fans to see he’s a team player, that he’s going to do what was best for this team to get ahead farther and faster. It’s not going to be an issue,” Jackson said.

So what exactly would a pay cut look like for Anthony and the Knicks?

That depends on Anthony’s starting salary.

Anthony can make a maximum of $22.54 million in his first season. A max contract with the Knicks would give him raises of 7.5 percent on that number in each successive season. So if he wanted to take a pay cut, Anthony could accept less money in the first year of his contract and then take maximum raises in each successive season.

But he also doesn’t have to take a maximum raise.

Under the rules of the CBA, his salary can fluctuate by a wide range from year to year. If Anthony were to re-sign with the Knicks, his salary could increase or decrease by 7.5 percent from year to year.

So Anthony, in theory, could agree to the maximum amount in Year 1 of his contract and then accept a pay cut of 7.5 percent in Year 2.

That would leave his salary for Year 2 at 20.85 million. That’s a savings of $3.4 million compared to what Anthony would get in the second year of a max contract with maximum raises.

This kind of pay cut would give the Knicks $3.4 million more to spend on free agents in the summer of 2015, when they hope to attract a big-name player to suit up alongside Anthony.

Of course, these numbers are all negotiable. So the pay cut will be dependent on the first-year salary Anthony agrees to and the percentage increases or decreases he agrees to throughout the life of the contract.

Jackson said on Thursday that he hopes Anthony will “take a little bit less” to help the Knicks “bring in another player to help us bring this concept along.” He did not commit to offering Anthony a maximum contract, but all signs seem to indicate that Jackson will be averse to that.

The Knicks president was asked on Thursday he thought it were “almost impossible” to build a championship team around a player on a max contract.

“I think it puts limitations on a team. What happens is then you end up having two or three players that that have big contracts and everybody else’s is either veteran minimums or young players coming in,” Jackson said. “You don’t have that middle ground for a player that’s veteran, comfortable leadership-quality people.”

The Heat is the most recent example of star players sacrificing money to play alongside one another. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all accepted less money to join forces in Miami in 2010. The trio helped the Heat win two titles and reach four consecutive NBA Finals.

“Miami explored it,” Jackson said. “They got the most out of it.”

Question: Do you think Carmelo should take a pay cut to help the Knicks? Or does he deserve max money?

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