Phil, Melo have 'connected'

One of the subplots in the drama surrounding Carmelo Anthony's free agency has been Anthony’s relationship with Phil Jackson.

Jackson has publicly discussed his hope that Anthony opt in to the final year of his contract. He's also talked about the importance of Anthony sticking to his word when it comes to taking a pay cut to stay in New York.

All of the public demands from team president to superstar have led some -- including this writer -- to speculate about Anthony’s reaction to Jackson’s words.

Well, for what it’s worth, Jackson’s message doesn’t seem to be bothering Anthony.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported late Friday night that the Knicks are optimistic about their chances of re-signing Anthony in part because of the relationship that’s been established between Anthony and Jackson.

Stein reports that Jackson and Anthony have "connected" to some degree.

Also, Jackson’s request that Anthony accept less than a maximum contract to re-sign with the Knicks hasn’t ruffled the high-scoring forward's feathers, according to a source.

Anthony views Jackson's message as "piggybacking" off what the All-Star himself suggested in February about taking a pay cut. He doesn't necessarily see it as Jackson placing a demand on him, a source said earlier this week.

That’s one reason for Knicks fans to be optimistic about Anthony as free agency approaches. Sure, Anthony will start making visits July 1, listening to pitches from the Mavericks, Bulls and Rockets in person.

But the Knicks, according to Stein, are confident Melo will end up back in New York.

New York, of course, can offer more money to Anthony than other teams. Other teams can give Anthony a better chance to win next season.

But there's also the family factor to consider.

Anthony said in an interview in early June that he would be hesitant to uproot his family -- 7-year-old son Kiyan in particular -- from New York to another city.

"The average person sees the opportunity to say, 'Melo should go here; Melo should go there; he should do this; I think he should do that,'" Anthony said in an interview with Vice Sports. "They don't take in consideration the family aspect of it. Where are you going to be living at? Do you want your kids to grow up in that place or that city? Do I want to stay the rest of my career in that situation and city? All that stuff comes into play."

A source told ESPN New York that Anthony has expressed similar concerns to close friends in recent days.

Question: As free agency approaches, how optimistic are you that Anthony will end up back in New York?

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