Miami Melo? Less money, more hate

Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Heat have had internal discussions about pursuing Carmelo Anthony in free agency. Here’s our take on the Heat’s play for Melo:

BIG pay cut: Phil Jackson has stated publicly that he’d like to see Melo take a pay cut to help the Knicks pursue other free agents. Jackson probably was thinking about Anthony taking a pay cut of $2 million to $4 million per season.

If Anthony wants to take his talents to South Beach, he’d have to sacrifice much more than that.

There are several scenarios in which the Heat can create enough cap space to offer Anthony a sizable contract and re-sign Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

The most plausible scenario has Miami clearing $55 million in cap space to sign all four players. Let’s say they divide that pie evenly.

That would leave Carmelo with a starting salary of $13.8 million on a four-year contract totaling $58.8 million. Signing that kind of deal would force Carmelo to leave more than $70 million on the table.

Why that much?

The max contract Anthony can sign this summer with the Knicks is a five-year, $129 million deal, with a first-year salary of $22.4 million.

If Anthony opted out and signed a max contract with another team this summer, it would be a four-year, $95 million pact with a starting salary of $22.4 million. In that scenario, he’d be accepting a pay cut of $37 million to sign with the Heat.

So either way, Anthony would be taking a significant pay cut to head to South Beach.

That’s one reason, if I were placing a bet on it today, I’d bet against Anthony signing with the Heat.

Yes, he’s close with James, Wade and Bosh -- all of whom were drafted in the same class as Anthony. And yes, he’s said he’d take less money for an opportunity to win. And sure, Miami pulled this off in 2010 when it got Wade, James and Bosh to take less money to team up in South Beach.

But a pay cut of $70 million? That’s asking a lot.

Public enemy No. 1 in NYC: Here’s something else to consider in the Melo-to-Miami move: If Carmelo were to sign with the Heat this summer, he’d probably be one of the most disliked figures in all of New York sports.

It’s one thing to spurn New York and ink a max contract in Houston or Chicago. That alone would leave Knicks fans with a bad taste in their mouths.

But to spurn the Knicks for Miami while leaving $70 million on the table? That would probably be perceived by the Knicks’ fan base as a slap in the face.

Don’t forget, Knicks owner James Dolan (against the wishes of then-GM Donnie Walsh) moved heaven and earth to trade for Anthony in 2011. The package to land Anthony included four rotation players and two first-round draft picks. One of those picks -- the 12th in this year’s draft -- went to Orlando. The second pick will potentially be swapped with Denver in 2016. The Knicks will then send their pick to Toronto as part of the Andrea Bargnani trade.

So the Knicks gave up on a promising present -- and compromised their future -- to land Anthony. If Carmelo heads to Miami in free agency, he’ll have two first-round playoff exits, a second-round playoff exit and a 37-win season on his résumé in New York.

That’s not exactly what Knicks fans envisioned when Anthony arrived in 2011. The sight of him in a Heat jersey probably won’t be easy to swallow for much of the Garden faithful.

Not the end of the world: We don’t think this is going to happen. But if it does, the Knicks won’t be in terrible shape in 2015-16. The 2014-15 season will likely be a waste -- unless you count giving Derek Fisher a season to get acclimated to coaching. But the Knicks will set themselves up for a nice rebuild in the summer of 2015.

New York will have a first-round draft pick and more than $40 million in cap space if Anthony is off the books. Not a bad situation to find yourself in if you are a rebuilding team in a big market.

Question: Do you think Carmelo will end up in Miami? If he left, how would that change your opinion of him?

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