By SAM SPIEGELMAN
The summer of 2014 is set to become very interesting very soon.
New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony plans to opt out of his current deal by the July 1 deadline and become a free agent, the New York Daily News confirmed.
The decision to become a free agent doesn't preclude Anthony from re-signing with New York, but it only gives more credit to the rumors he could be looking to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat.
Barring a dramatic change of heart, Anthony will opt out of his contract on July 1 and become an unrestricted free agent, the Daily News has learned.
Anthony has until June 23 to notify the Knicks of his intention to opt out. Anthony and his agent, Leon Rose, reportedly met on Thursday with Jackson, new coach Derek Fisher and general manager Steve Mills. Assuming Anthony opts out, it doesn't necessarily mean that the All-Star forward won't re-sign with the Knicks, especially when the club can offer him the most money. But even Jackson recently admitted he is concerned about losing Anthony to free agency because it "only takes one" team. That one team could be the Heat.
Knicks president Phil Jackson has advised Anthony to opt into his current deal, then become a free agent next offseason. By doing that, the Knicks would have more financial flexibility and could pursue another max-contract type of free agent - let's say LeBron James - to instantly make the Knicks an Eastern Conference contender.
This week, the biggest rumor is that 'Melo wants to take his talents to South Beach to create a Big Four. In order to facilitate that deal, Anthony, James, Bosh and Wade would also need to accept pay reductions.
Jackson is well aware there's a chance he could lose Anthony in free agency. Although the Zen Master would prefer to keep Anthony in New York, he is also preparing for life after Anthony.
"I'm not losing sleep over it but I'm definitely concerned about the idea of a guy going into free agency," Jackson said in May, via the Daily News. "It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances."
"I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it's like for a year, and go out the next year. But that's his option, that's what he's earned, and that's what's part of his contractual agreement. He has the right to do that. But I just offered that as: 'Look, this gives you an opportunity to see how this is going to change, see how we're going to get going, your relationship to the team and the coach and the system or whatever.' "
Anthony has until June 23 to inform the Knicks of whether he plans to opt in or opt out of his contract. On Thursday, Bosh estimated the chances of Anthony landing in Miami as 1 percent, but there are other suitors as well - the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors have all been linked to Anthony.
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