Carmelo Anthony was always going to opt out of the final year of his Knicks contract to become an unrestricted free agent; fire up the Google machine and you’ll find quotes from him stating that before the season even began.
The difference now, of course, is that last year was a dismal one in New York that ended well below the team’s expectations.
Anthony’s future with the Knicks appears to be in far more jeopardy than it was all those months ago, and if winning now is the priority, then the free agent visits he has planned with teams like the Bulls and the Rockets would appear to threaten his chances of re-signing.
New York, however, remains confident that Anthony will stay, in part because of the relationship he’s formed with Phil Jackson.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
The New York Knicks are increasingly optimistic about their chances of re-signing star Carmelo Anthony even as he readies himself to talk to other teams next week, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that Knicks officials, while not willing to trumpet it publicly with free agency fast approaching, are quietly confident about their odds of retaining Anthony thanks in part to the idea that new team president Phil Jackson and the high-scoring forward have “connected” to some degree.
In addition to Jackson being in place and initially making some moves that have the franchise headed in a positive direction, there are more than 30 million reasons the Knicks have to be confident of Anthony’s return.
Many have believed all along that money will ultimately be Anthony’s motivating factor, and the extra year he can receive by staying in New York on a max contract gives the Knicks the edge in that regard.
It’s more than likely to take a plan from Jackson that Anthony believes will come to fruition in order for him stay. Because if winning now ends up moving to the top of Anthony’s list of priorities, then he’s essentially already gone.