Former teammate believes Carmelo Anthony will leave Knicks as free agent

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Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt out of the final year of a contract that would pay him more than $23 million next season, in order to secure a long-term deal at or near the max that would further secure his financial future.

The question, of course, is whether or not that next deal will be with the Knicks.

Speculation will continue right up until the moment Anthony makes his free agent decision once the season is finished, and with the Knicks struggling mightily, it’s only natural that the rumors of his wanting to leave will begin to gain some steam.

Cue the anonymous former teammate of Anthony’s, via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Carmelo Anthony’s former teammate needed just a few seconds to ponder the question and deliver a definitive answer.

“I think he’s leaving. I’ve played with Melo for a long time and he knows he can’t win here. At this stage, all he wants to do is win. That’s why he’ll leave.” …

Anthony’s former teammate, who requested anonymity, echoed the thoughts of several people close to Anthony who believe he’s ready to leave. Still, the Knicks have the ace in the hole; they can offer Anthony approximately $30 million more than any other team under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. Money still talks in the NBA, and it’s hard to believe Anthony will walk away from a lucrative contract.

It’s not important who said this, but if it matters in terms of how much credence you put into the quote, my guess would be Marcus Camby, who played with Anthony as a member of both the Nuggets and the Knicks and would thus have a relationship with a New York reporter.

It has been a terribly rough year for the Knicks, but so much can happen between now and the end of the season that it’s hard to believe even Anthony himself has made a decision on his future. And after pushing so hard to get to New York in the first place, it would be tough to see him bailing just three and a half seasons in.

Whatever decision is made, the contract piece likely won’t weigh too heavily into it. Anthony will have an estimated $135 million in career earnings (not including endorsements) once this season is finished, so like Dwight Howard last summer, one more year on a deal to stay somewhere he doesn’t want to be — even for $30 million — won’t be worth it when he considers his long-term happiness.