Phil Jackson still hopeful on Melo
But the Knicks team president reiterated that he wants Anthony back in a Knicks uniform and again discussed the possibility of Anthony potentially taking less money to help the team be competitive.
"It's a big question because there are so many things that can happen out there," Jackson said when asked if he is more or less optimistic about keeping Anthony as July 1 approaches. "We really don't know. With LeBron getting in this free agency, and all this stuff, kind of tipsy and turvy right now.
"We don't know what all that means. But we have every confidence that Carmelo is good for what his word is, that he wants to be in New York, he likes playing in New York, he wants to compete, he wants to be part of a playoff team that is competitive toward a championship."
Anthony said this past season that he would consider taking less money if it meant being part of a winning team. Jackson talked about that recently and again Thursday night.
"When I take his word, he's the one who opened that up, that it wasn't about the money," Jackson said. "So I challenged him on that, because I wanted our fans to see he's a team player, that he was going to do what's best to get our team ahead farther and faster.
"But you know, that's not going to be an issue. I think there's gonna be things happening in the league in the near future in the NBA that's gonna grow this league, and monetarily it's not going to be an issue for us to do it."
Jackson was asked if the Knicks will offer Anthony a maximum contract. They can pay Anthony up to $129.1 million over five seasons.
"We haven't come to that," Jackson said. "But the perception is we want Carmelo to be as interested in winning. When saying he's competitive and wants to be on a competitive team to also being able to demonstrate that if push comes to shove in a situation where he may have to take a little bit less and we're more competitive to bring in another player to help us bring this concept along."
Jackson said Anthony hasn't told him when he hopes to make a decision. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported that Anthony is planning on visiting with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls once free agency begins July 1. Anthony can receive up to a max of $95.9 million over four years from other teams.
Jackson would not discuss whether he will consider doing a sign-and-trade if Anthony opts to leave.
The Knicks traded Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton on Wednesday to Dallas for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round 2014 draft picks. Jackson said Anthony was informed of the potential of the trade when the two teams began talking.
Jackson believes the trade improves the team, especially its chemistry. He said the Knicks "want to send a message to all of our players that we are on the move and we are making changes."
Jackson, though, acknowledged that creating enough cap space to be a player in free agency next month remains "a very difficult task."
"We have many handicaps obviously with our salary cap being what it is," Jackson said. "But, you know, there's always a possibility. We're not going to rule ourselves out of any gambit that could possibly put us in the chance to really do something special."
But the Zen Master understands that he doesn't have any control over what will transpire in July and how it only takes one significant bidder to lure away Anthony.
"Well, we don't have control," Jackson said. "Someone goes into free agency, that is what it is about. They have the option to do that. They get a chance to see what other people have to say about it. He is (going) to step into a situation in which people are going to appeal to him and his better self and about what their team is and he is going to have to make that judgment call."
"And we just felt that what we are doing appeals to him also. And he realizes where he has been and how we want him back."
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