- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- New York Knicks president Phil Jackson met with Carmelo Anthony on Tuesday night at a Manhattan restaurant to discuss the team's coaching situation and the star forward's pending free agency, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.
Anthony plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer. Jackson has said he'd like to re-sign Anthony but added recently that he'd prefer Anthony take a pay cut to remain with the Knicks.
Jackson is also conducting a search for the Knicks' next coach, and TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr has emerged as a favorite. ESPN.com reported Tuesday the Knicks are trying to complete a deal with Kerr that would install him as coach after the first round of the playoffs, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Photos of the dinner meeting surfaced on the Internet late Tuesday, and a source confirmed Wednesday that the meeting took place.
Jackson talked with Anthony about his relationship with Kerr and Kerr's background, the source said. Part of Anthony's decision in free agency will presumably be based on who is coaching the Knicks.
Anthony suggested in February that he would consider taking a pay cut to remain with the Knicks if it helped the team attract other free agents. Last week, Jackson said he hopes the All-Star forward is "true to his word."
It is unclear if that topic was broached at Tuesday's meeting.
"I think [there is] a precedent that's been set," Jackson said last week, referring to stars taking less money to join or remain with contending teams. "Because the way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it's really hard to have one or two top stars or max players, and to put together a team with enough talent, you've got to have people making sacrifices financially.
"So we hope that Carmelo is true to his word, and we understand what it's going to take, and we will present that to him at that time."
Anthony can sign a maximum five-year, $129 million contract if he stays with the Knicks. He can sign a maximum four-year, $95.8 million contract with any other team.
Last week, Jackson was asked if he would consider it a disaster if Anthony did not re-sign after all that the Knicks gave up to acquire him in 2011. New York traded four rotation players and two first-round picks to land Anthony in a three-team trade.
"I'm all about moving forward," Jackson said. "Just deal with what is and move forward. If it's in the cards, man are we fortunate. If it's not in the cards, man are we fortunate. We're going forward anyway."
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com