Phil Jackson isn't exactly off to a roaring start in New York.
Just a few weeks after being spurned by Steve Kerr, who elected to coach the Warriors after verbally committing to the Knicks, Jackson is struggling in a high-profile situation once again. According to ESPN.com and the New York Daily News, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony plans to opt out of his current contract with the Knicks and test free agency this summer despite Jackson's requests.
Anthony has an option to opt out of his deal with New York either this summer or next. He has until June 23 to decide whether he wants to stay with the Knicks and exercise his $22.3 million player option for 2014-15 or test the free-agent waters.
Jackson, the Knicks' new team president, had hoped to convince Anthony to give him one more season to prove the franchise is finally on the right track before hitting the market. According to ESPN.com, Jackson has spoken to Anthony several times since being hired in March -- both in person and on the phone -- attempting to woo the All-Star to stay.
"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," Jackson said, according to ESPN.com. "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, the system we impose."
Earlier this week, Jackson hired Derek Fisher to be the Knicks' head coach. Fisher said he hopes to see Carmelo stick with the Knicks, but stopped short of sounding confident in his introductory press conference:
"Carmelo is in a position as a player where that’s his choice. I can speak from experience that as a player, free agency is something you want to experience. You enjoy the process, but you ultimately make a choice that you feel like is best for you, your family or those people involved. We firmly believe that [New York] is a good place for Carmelo and we’re going to do our best to help — not convince him or change his mind from maybe a decision he’s already made, but help — give him some confidence that with the personalities involved and our commitment to working hard to achieve a certain level of success that this is a place where he can have what it is he wants. He wants to be on a great team. He wants to be around great people that want to achieve greatness. He’s great, and he deserves that. And so that’s what we want to work to create with him and hopefully we can do it.”
On Thursday, the New York Daily News reported Carmelo would test free agency barring "a dramatic change of heart."
One of the teams reportedly interested in landing Carmelo this summer are the Heat, who currently trail the Spurs 3-1 in the NBA Finals. According to an ESPN.com report, Miami's leading players have discussed taking drastic paycuts this season in order to add Anthony to the team's core and become a "Big Four" consisting of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Anthony.
But SI.com's Rob Mahoney explained Thursday that while Anthony bolting for South Beach is technically possible, it's far from likely:
All of which brings us to the stark difference between possibility and plausibility. Anthony could wind up signing in Miami as a free agent this summer. To do so, though, he would need to decide to opt out of his deal, pass on the chance to re-up with the Knicks, concede well into eight figures over the life of a new contract and decide to sign with the Miami over every other suitor (Chicago, Houston, etc.). The Heat, meanwhile, would need to get four stars with distinct interests on the same page as far as their free agency, convince three of them to opt out and then take far less than they could reasonably demand, talk Anthony into a very different role than he’s accustomed to, convince (Udonis) Haslem (and perhaps Chris Andersen) to drop his option, likely ditch their first-round pick and renounce the cap hold of every other player on their current roster. Every facet of the above is possible. Working out all of those threads to precision and mutual satisfaction, however, seems rather unlikely at the least.
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