Carmelo Anthony Wants To Stay With Knicks

5:15pm: Supporting the possibility that was tweeted earlier today about Anthony being willing to sign for less money if it would help the Knicks be more competitive, comes this piece from Ian Begley of Anthony stated, “Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, if it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on (Knicks owner) Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying: ‘Take my money and let’s build something strong over here.”’ The problem for the team is that even if ‘Melo agreed to a $1 contract for 2014/2015, the team would still be over the cap primarily because of the salaries of Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4MM), Andrea Bargnani ($11.5MM), and Tyson Chandler ($14.6MM), writes Begley. That is working under the assumption that both Stoudemire and Bargnani trigger their options, which it seems most likely they will.

3:53pm: Carmelo intends to sit down with Knicks executives after the season, and Anthony’s impression of the team’s plan to become a contender will be critical as he makes his final decision, Berman writes.

1:51pm: Carmelo Anthony told reporters covering All-Star weekend today that his first priority is to stay with the Knicks, and that he’d like to remain with the organization for the rest of his career, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweets. ‘Melo also dispelled any speculation the Knicks will trade him before the deadline.

“I know for a fact I’m not being traded,” Anthony said, as Ben Golliver of observes (Twitter link).

Scores of reports over the past several weeks have cast the idea of an Anthony trade as unlikely after the Knicks and Clippers dismissed rumors they were considering an Anthony-for-Blake Griffin swap. Anthony also says he’d take less on his next contract if it would help the Knicks retain flexibility, as Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets.

Anthony reiterated his desire to opt out of his contract and become a free agent at season’s end in an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter today (video link), though his other comments today suggest he’s strongly leaning toward re-signing with the Knicks. Anthony says the Knicks should do whatever is necessary to become a title contender, notes Al Iannazzone of Newsday (Twitter link).

‘Melo also says there’s no doubt coach Mike Woodson will lead the team in practice on Monday, quelling speculation about the embattled coach for at least a few more days, Berman tweets. The Knicks have reportedly considered firing Woodson before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Anthony could re-sign with the Knicks for more than $129MM over five years if he takes a max deal. Just how much less he’ll accept remains to be seen, but New York is set to have about $66.5MM on its payroll for next season if Anthony opts out and Amar’e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace opt into their deals, which seems the most likely scenario. That would put the Knicks over the projected salary cap and unable to sign any outside free agents to more than the mid-level exception.

While Anthony apparently hasn’t made a definitive statement about whether he’ll re-sign, today’s comments should allow the club, which has remained confident about Anthony’s desire to stay, to focus on building around Anthony, rather than fretting about his decision. The team’s payroll doesn’t allow for much flexibility this summer, but the team has only about $10.35MM committed for 2015/16 in the form of player options for J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton. Anthony could help the team recruit marquee free agents in 2015, when Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and perhaps LeBron James could all hit the market.

The Bulls, Clippers and Lakers have at various times appeared to be possible alternative destinations for Anthony, though just about any team with cap space this summer likely will make some sort of run at last year’s scoring champ to see if his mind can be changed. The Leon Rose client would appear to be the second most desirable player with a chance to hit free agency this summer, behind only James, as our list of 2014 free agents shows.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

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