Despite the additions of team president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony still intends to opt out of his contract on July 1, according to the New York Daily News.
Anthony’s current contract includes a player option for next season, and Jackson previously made it clear he had attempted to convince Anthony to exercise that option and stay in New York for another year. Jackson intended to build the Knicks around Anthony and add another max contract in free agency to pair with his current superstar.
The Daily News report says that, despite Jackson’s request, Anthony does not intend to exercise his player option. However, that does not necessarily mean he will leave the Knicks, only that he wants to test free agency.
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Under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks will be able to offer Anthony the most money. He has what are known as “Bird rights” because he spent more than three seasons with the Knicks, and a team can go over the salary cap to sign its own free agents who have those rights to a max contract.
However, going to a new team would waive those rights, meaning Anthony’s salary would have to fit naturally under his new team’s cap. Which means no team will be able to offer Anthony more than the Knicks can.
The 30-year-old Anthony has never tested the free agency waters before. He was drafted by the Denver Nuggets and signed a five-year extension with them in 2006. When that contract reached its final year, he made it clear he did not intend to sign again, and was traded to the Knicks in 2011. He then signed a three-year extension with a player option for a fourth season, which he apparently now fishes to forego.
“I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it’s like for a year, and go out the next year,” Phil Jackson previously said of Anthony. “But that’s his option, that’s what he’s earned, and that’s what’s part of his contractual agreement. He has the right to do that. But I just offered that as: ‘Look, this gives you an opportunity to see how this is going to change, see how we’re going to get going, your relationship to the team and the coach and the system or whatever.’ ”
In his 11-year career, Anthony has averaged 25.3 points per game. He led the league with 28.7 points per game in the 2012-2013 season and has been selected as an All-Star seven times.