Less than two weeks after agreeing to a five-year, $124 million contract to remain with the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony told ESPN that he “doesn’t care about the money” and that signing with the Knicks was a “matter of me believing in the organization, believing in Phil [Jackson].”
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman has more on Carmelo’s first public appearance since his whirlwind free agency tour officially came to a close. And though conventional wisdom always suggested he’d end up staying in New York despite reports otherwise, Anthony says he came close to choosing to play for the Chicago Bulls.
“I want to win. I don’t care about the money,” Anthony told ESPN.com. “I believe Phil will do what he has to do to take care of that.”
“I don’t think we’re that far away,” he added. “People use ‘rebuilding’ too loosely…”
“I was flip-flopping [in free agency],” he admitted. “It was hard. It was Chicago, but then after I met with L.A., it was L.A. But it came back to Chicago — and was pretty much always Chicago or New York. That’s a situation where I could have walked in now to an opportunity to compete for the next however many years…”
“It’s a matter of me believing in the organization, believing in Phil,” Anthony said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I can end my career.”
Though tangibly irrelevant now, it’s still fun to think about Anthony signing with the Bulls. Chicago was rumored to be his preferred destination at several different points throughout his free agency tour, and stood to emerge as the Eastern Conference favorite in 2014-2015 if he’d ultimately chosen to play in the Windy City. The Bulls rebounded nicely by signing Pau Gasol once Carmelo spurned them, but the Spanish star’s influence will pale in comparison to Anthony’s prospective one.
The relationship between Carmelo and Jackson has seemingly improved by leaps and bounds since an early summer meeting between the two and coach Derek Fisher left many believing he’d sign elsewhere. Jackson expressed frequent optimism that Anthony would ultimately re-up with the Knicks throughout the free agency process, too.
And though Carmelo didn’t take the major pay decrease for which Jackson publicly pined, it’s clear the faces of New York basketball are currently on the same page. Anthony’s contract, though lucrative, was several million dollars less than the maximum allowable, and Jackson’s general aggression and willingness to think big-picture clearly appeals to his superstar.
It’s a long, rocky road to contention in New York, but Anthony is obviously fully aboard – even if he came far closer to taking an entirely different route than most assumed.
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