Nine months of nearly daily speculation about Carmelo Anthony’s future came to an end Saturday when Anthony agreed to re-sign with the Knicks, according to a person with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations.
Anthony, one of the N.B.A.’s elite scorers, made his decision one day after LeBron James sent tremors across the league by agreeing to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two players were the top free agents on the market this summer, with the ability to alter the landscape of the league depending on where each wanted to play.
It was not immediately clear if Anthony had signed a contract, or what the terms of a new deal were. By agreeing to return — a move first reported by The Daily News and Yahoo — Anthony positions himself as the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.
“It seems like at least in these last few hours, it’s gotten closer to sounding like Carmelo will be rejoining our team,” said Derek Fisher, the Knicks’ recently hired coach. “That’s obviously great news.”
Anthony was eligible for a contract from the Knicks that would pay him nearly $130 million over five years, more than any other team could offer, according to league rules. Any long-term deal approaching that amount of money would come fraught with risk, though. Anthony, 30, is banking on the notion that Phil Jackson, the team president, can help turn the Knicks, one of the league’s perennial underperformers, into a contender with the clock ticking on Anthony’s career.
The Knicks, too, are making a substantial investment in a player who has not always elevated the play of his team. Anthony, an elite scorer and a seven-time All-Star, has appeared in 13 playoff series over the course of his 11-year career, with his team winning just three of them.
Late last month, Anthony opted out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him more than $23 million next season. He became a free agent on July 1 and was courted by several teams, including the Chicago Bulls. Now, after days of deliberating, he has decided to stay put.
Tim Hardaway Jr., a guard with the Knicks, said he had exchanged text messages with Anthony and was happy he was returning. Kenyon Martin, a free agent who played for the Knicks last season, said he was not surprised to learn that Anthony was re-signing with the team.
“He wants to win a championship in New York,” Martin said before the Knicks’ summer league team faced the Portland Trail Blazers.
Though Jackson declined to discuss the Anthony negotiations in detail on Saturday, saying little more than, “We’ll wait; we’ll be there,” last week he was optimistic about Anthony’s remaining with the team, saying that he felt “really good” about the meeting he had with Anthony in Los Angeles on July 3.
“We really struck a chord,” Jackson said Thursday. “The two of us, I think, feel really passionately about what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
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SOURCE: New York Times