Carmelo Anthony: Season is focus

Updated: October 18, 2013, 3:42 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony has assured New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson he's focused on this season, not free agency, and he's confident that players such as Kobe Bryant won't be making pitches to lure him away next season.

"I'm a guy who's strong-minded person who's not gonna let that outside stuff bother me," Anthony said Friday. "(Woodson) knows that."

The Knicks' star forward says he will opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer.

Woodson said on Thursday that he wants Anthony to "worry" solely about the coming season, not on his pending free agency.

Anthony recently assured Woodson that he won't let any "Melodrama" impact his play in a conversation the two had before training camp.

"I told him, 'Don't even think about worrying about me, as far as letting that interfere with my game or this team – I'm not, so you shouldn't,' " Anthony said.

Several teams with the requisite cap space are expected to have interest in the 29-year-old Anthony, the NBA's reigning scoring champ.

ESPN.com reported during the summer that the Los Angeles Lakers would target Anthony and LeBron James in summer 2014 if both decided to explore free agency.

Anthony, though, doesn't expect to receive a recruiting pitch during the season from Bryant, who is a close friend.

"I think Kobe respects me as a ballplayer, as a person, as a friend. So I don't think none of them phone calls will be coming in," Anthony said.

Any phone call from Bryant -- or any other player -- to Anthony to discuss free agency during the season is against league rules.

The collective bargaining agreement states that any player who attempts to "entice" a player under contract to join another team is considered to be tampering.

It's worth noting that if Anthony decides to opt out, he can make more money if he re-signs with the Knicks -- a five-year contract worth $129.1 million -- instead of another suitor.

With another team, the maximum he could earn is $95.9 million over four years, according to calculations by ESPN salary-cap expert Larry Coon.

Those numbers are based on the assumption Anthony will sign a max contract. Anthony said earlier that he wouldn't discuss his plans for the summer. But he addressed the topic Thursday after a New York Observer story quoted Anthony as saying he wants to be a free agent.

"It's definitely an opportunity that I'm willing to explore and experience," Anthony said. "That not whatsoever means that I'm not coming back to New York or I don't want to be here in New York. So I don't want nobody to get that impression."

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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