Everyone gets what they want . . . for now

Carmelo Anthony reacts after a three-point basket in Carmelo Anthony reacts after a three-point basket in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept. ...

Carmelo Anthony got most of what he presumably wanted out of free agency.

Maximum money, or at least closer to it than any other team could have offered.

Maximum attention, thanks to a deliberation process that outlasted even that of LeBron James.

Maximum gratitude from a fan base not in the mood for a 2014-15 season spent marking time before the next round of superstar-courting.

If part of Melo's plan also was to hope a situation came along that was so enticing that it would ease the pain of leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table, well, that apparently didn't happen.

A league source told Newsday on Saturday that Anthony will re-sign with the Knicks, with only the contractual details to be worked out as of last evening.

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So Anthony still is here and here the Knicks are, more or less where they left off last season, with a more reliable point guard and no reliable center.

They are talented enough to contend for a respectable playoff seed in the less-than- respectable Eastern Conference, but with no immediate road to a championship in sight and with James now working for the ascendant Cavaliers rather than the declining Heat.

That's OK for now, and better than the alternative of Anthony having left. But many, many things will have to go right during the next several years for the re-signing of Melo to pay off with a trophy come some late mid-June night.

Anthony will have to stay healthy and productive into his mid-30s and buy into the philosophy that Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson preach. Neither of those is a sure thing, but neither is a stretch.

The bigger task will be using Jackson's wiles to assemble a cast that Melo can make better, and vice versa. Among other things, Jackson must give him good reasons to give up the ball and trust that it is headed in a productive direction.

Anthony's isolation game increasingly has become an anachronism in the ever-globalizing NBA -- perhaps you watched the team from San Antonio play in the Finals -- and he must adapt.

But even at age 30, he has the skill and motivation to at least tweak his approach and partner with the new coach and team president to find a path to title contention.

One thing we know for sure is that Anthony does not shy away from the big-city lights, and he knows full well that after his free-agency dalliances this summer and his big payday, he now officially is all in.

He is the face of the franchise until further notice, even more so than Jackson, which is what Melo has earned and what he has asked for.

Anthony is a flawed superstar, one who lacks the sort of complete game that James brings to the table. Then again, everyone lacks the complete game that LeBron brings to the table.

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So while Anthony is no sure bet to deliver more than the early postseason exits that have marked his career, keeping him and building from there was the Knicks' best option.

Melo got what he wanted, even if he did look longingly across the room at some attractive alternatives.

Jackson got what he wanted, even if he would have preferred to pay less money and have more flexibility.

The fans got what they wanted, for the moment, but remain unsure what to make of it all in the longer term.

Anthony is no LeBron or Kevin Durant, nor is he Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant in their primes.

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And no, he is not yet Patrick Ewing, a Knick whose career path Anthony should be proud to emulate in terms of production, minus the parts about never having the right supporting cast and never delivering a title.

Was Melo's decision to take the money and stay a great day in Knicks history? Time will tell. But from our limited view in mid-July 2014, it was the best kind of day for the Knicks and their fans.

The Dolan family owns

controlling interests in the

Knicks, Madison Square

Garden and Cablevision.

Cablevision owns Newsday.

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