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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony said on Thursday he'd like to re-sign with the New York Knicks this summer but first would need assurances that team president Phil Jackson can build a winner around him.
"I want to come back. But I also want to win," Anthony said after his exit interview with Jackson at the team's practice facility. "You know, me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of [the next contract], then I'm willing to stay here and I'm willing to ride or die for New York.
"You know, I've never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what's out there."
Anthony plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer.
The Knicks can offer Anthony a five-year contract worth $129,135,806. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can get is $95,897,372 over four years. Those numbers are based on the assumption Anthony, one of the top scorers in the NBA, will sign a max contract.
Anthony stressed Thursday that he wouldn't make his decision based on finances.
"At this point in my career, it's about winning," he said. "Nothing else even matters."
The Knicks, Anthony said, failed to meet his expectations this season. They finished 37-45 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
The team isn't expected to have much of an opportunity to re-shape the roster this summer. Even if Anthony signs with another team, the Knicks still will be over the salary cap thanks to the contracts for Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million in 2014-15), Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) and Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million).
Some believe Jackson will allow the contracts of Bargnani, Chandler and Stoudemire to expire after next season and rebuild the roster in the summer of 2015. The Knicks may have significant cap space that summer. They also have a first-round draft pick in 2015.
Anthony, though, said he isn't interested in waiting until 2015-16 to build a team that can compete for a title.
|Will he stay or will he go? Carmelo Anthony is keeping his options open after a losing season.|
"I don't know if I can afford to wait another season of losing," said Anthony, 29. "I really can't see that picture right now."
The 11-year veteran added: "I'm not at a point in my career when I want to rebuild. [Hopefully] we can work with the pieces that we have and Phil brings his knowledge of running a basketball program, organization, to this. Then we can have a lot to talk about."
The Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams expected to pursue Anthony this summer. Anthony was somewhat vague Thursday when talking about the possibility of playing for another team.
"You never know," he said. "Sometimes the grass isn't always greener on the other side. This is stuff that I'm going to have to sit down with my family and really figure [out]. This is not a decision that's going to happen overnight. It's going to take some time."
Anthony is coming off one of the best seasons in his career. The All-Star forward finished second in the league in scoring (27.4 point per game) and also averaged a career-high 8.1 rebounds. Anthony suffered a small tear in his right labrum in early April and sat out the Knicks' final two games. He has started to rehabilitate the injury, which isn't expected to require surgery.
Before finishing his session with reporters on Thursday, Anthony offered support for coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks' struggles this season have resulted in widespread speculation about Woodson's job status.
"If he needs my recommendation, whether it's here or anywhere else, I'll back him," said Anthony, who appeared to grow emotional when talking about Woodson. "I have nothing bad to say about Mike Woodson. I support him.
"For me as a player, I had some of my best years under Mike Woodson. So I would never have anything bad to say about Mike Woodson."