Carmelo Anthony reiterated Thursday that he plans to opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks next summer and test free agency.
“Does that mean I’m not coming back to New York? Not at all,” Anthony said ahead of Thursday night’s exhibition game against the Washington Wizards at Baltimore Arena. “But it is definitely an opportunity that I’m willing to explore and experience. But that does not mean whatsoever that I’m not coming back to New York, or that I don’t want to be in New York. I don’t want nobody to get that impression.”
Anthony, who led the NBA in scoring last season, has two years and about $45 million remaining on his contract, but he can terminate the deal at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season through a player option. If Anthony were to sign a new deal with the Knicks, even after testing free agency, he would be eligible for a five-year contract worth $129 million, according to NBA rules. The most he could sign for with another team is $96 million over four years.
An extension with the Knicks would add a maximum of two seasons to Anthony’s current contract, paying him a total of about $74 million through the 2016-17 season. So, from a financial standpoint, opting out and declaring for free agency makes sense for him.
The problem for the Knicks, of course, is that Anthony has been noncommittal about his future with the team.
On Thursday he seemed determined to navigate his way through a labyrinth of public-relations pitfalls.
“I think, as a player, guys would like to explore that, guys would like to have that situation, just to see what it’s about,” Anthony said.
Anthony has never been an unrestricted free agent, and that appears to be a part of the appeal. In 2011, he signed a three-year extension right before he was acquired by the Knicks from the Denver Nuggets in a blockbuster deal.
It seems pertinent to mention that the Knicks mortgaged much of their future — four rotation players, three draft picks and $6 million in cash — to land Anthony in the first place. If he were to opt out next summer and sign somewhere else, the Knicks would be left with nothing.
Nets honor Kidd
Jason Kidd lifted the Nets to their greatest NBA heights, and on Thursday they lifted his No. 5 to the rafters.
The Nets retired Kidd’s jersey in a ceremony before their former star coached them against the Miami Heat.
Kidd arrived in New Jersey in 2001 and promptly led the Nets, who had been one of the league’s sorriest franchises, to consecutive NBA Finals. He played with them until he was traded midway through the 2007-08 season and is the franchise leader in numerous statistical categories.
The Nets were a perennial Eastern Conference contender throughout the Kidd era and rarely had anything close to that success except when they were an ABA franchise.
The banner was the New Jersey Nets’ red, white and blue, not the Brooklyn black and white. Kidd joined Julius Erving, Drazen Petrovic, John Williamson, Bill Melchionni and Buck Williams as Nets with their numbers retired.