- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Despite all of the drama surrounding the New York Knicks, coach Mike Woodson remains confident that free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony will re-sign with the team this summer and, ultimately, retire as a Knick.
"In my heart, I don't think [Anthony will sign with another team]. I think Melo will retire a New York Knick. That's just my personal belief," Woodson said Wednesday in an interview on the "Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco" show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
Anthony has two years remaining on his contract but plans to opt out of the final season, worth $23.3 million. The Knicks' star forward can make more money if he re-signs with the Knicks as a free agent this summer instead of with another suitor.
With the Knicks, Anthony can ink a five-year contract worth $129,135,806, an average of $25.8 million per year. If he signs with another team, the maximum Anthony can earn is $95,897,372 over four years, an average of nearly $24 million per year. Those numbers are based on the assumption that Anthony, one of the top scorers in the NBA, will sign a max contract.
Anthony said in September that he'd like to test free agency, in part to go through the process of being courted by other NBA teams for the first time in his career. A month later, he said he'd like to retire as a Knick.
Sources with knowledge of Anthony's thinking believe he hasn't made any firm decisions about his future. Some have speculated that the Knicks' performance this season will factor heavily into Anthony's plans this summer.
New York had a five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats. At 15-23, the Knicks have performed well below expectations. The team has also dealt with off-court distractions involving J.R. Smith, Anthony's close friend.
Woodson said on Wednesday that he isn't "worried" about Anthony leaving. But, in the same breath, the coach admitted that he is "concerned" the team's on- and off-court issues may impact Anthony's decision, leading him to leave New York.
"Yeah, you're concerned. But again, Melo is wearing a Knick uniform and I think Melo loves playing in New York," Woodson told Smith and Ruocco. "He's been one of the bright spots this year because he hasn't taken any games off. He's been solid through all of our ups and downs this year. To me, that's the sign of a true pro. Melo's trying to do all of the right things. We are now starting to get back healthy and we are playing a little bit better."
Anthony is second in the NBA in scoring (26 points per game) and is averaging a career-high 8.8 rebounds.