Per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Anthony has reiterated he intends to opt out of the final year of his contract—and the $20 million it would net him—and pursue free agency, although he hasn’t specifically ruled out returning to the Knicks.
Finally, after months of back-channel communication, Anthony met with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher—the team’s new president of basketball operations and head coach, respectively—to discuss the All-Star forward’s future.
This is undoubtedly good news for Knicks fans. Or the ones who want Anthony back, anyway.
At the same time, Anthony’s not about to come forward and lob invective at his still-current employer, even if he’s already made up his mind about moving on.
Indeed, you can look at Melo’s “I like what Phil is doing” from a couple of different angles:
Either Anthony really does approve of Jackson’s move to hire Fisher—and Jackson’s presence in general—or this is just his polite way of applauding the Knicks’ new direction while continuing to plot his escape from New York.
With so many teams rumored to be in pursuit of the sweet-shooting forward, Anthony will doubtless be doing his fair share of wining and dining in the coming days and weeks.
All the while, there’s some skepticism that Jackson’s pursuit is more about saving face with fans than it is any long-term strategy. Here’s Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
Around Anthony and the NBA, there's some doubt about whether Jackson truly wants to keep him on a five-year, $120 million-plus extension, or simply is giving the appearance for public relations' sake. Jackson has been somewhat cavalier in his public declarations of wanting Anthony to stay, and it's been noticed.
Anthony has said he's willing to take less than the maximum-allowable contract, but league sources said that involves situations where he can be shown how his financial concessions can result in the immediate acquisition or retention of talent. Anthony hasn't expressed interest in taking less for hypothetical signings in 2015 or '16, as New York wants him to do, sources said.
Even if Anthony were willing to re-sign with the Knicks at a discount, Jackson still faces the task of rounding out a fantastically flawed roster. Which lends even more credence to the idea that Jackson and Fisher’s reach-out was more polite protocol than savvy strategy.
With each passing day, it seems more and more likely that Melo would just as soon salvage his chance at a championship far from Manhattan’s madding media. And really, can you blame him?
Knicks fans won't want to hear any of this, of course. They know Anthony was the one who forced his way to the Knicks, jettisoning their 2014 first-round pick—along with a bevy of young talent—in the process.
Since the day he arrived in New York, Melo has been one of the city's most uniquely polarizing stars. And while history will likely look back on his Knicks tenure as a mixed bag of fantastic moments and shortsighted organizational failures, the wounds wrought by his leaving might take a little longer to heal.