Carmelo Anthony's decision to see what free agency has to offer is not a surprise.
Anthony, 30, has never been a free agent, and this is his chance to sign with the team he thinks has the best chance of winning a championship in the next four to five seasons. It's also likely his next contract will be the last super lucrative one he signs.
Anthony will terminate the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks and become a free agent July 1, a person familiar with Anthony's decision told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.
Anthony's move doesn't really alter free agency. Though Knicks President Phil Jackson wanted Anthony to stay for the final season of the deal, league executives had been planning for Anthony's availability this summer.
Anthony, who was due to make $23.3 million next season, will have suitors lined up for his services -- potentially the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, perhaps some others and, of course, the Knicks.
Teams can began talking to free agents July 1 and agree to terms but deals cannot be officially signed until July 10.
The Knicks can offer Anthony, a seven-time All-Star, the longest contract and most money (five years, $130 million); other teams can offer four years and about $96 million. But it's not guaranteed the Knicks want to pay him the maximum.
The Knicks don't have many options in free agency. As long as Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't opt out of his $23.4 million deal, the Knicks will be over the salary cap even if Anthony leaves. New York also does not have a pick in Thursday's draft.
While Jackson would like Anthony back and possibly at less than the maximum, he's not fretting the potential loss of Anthony. The summer of 2015 is when Jackson can really make a big impact. That's when the contracts of Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler expire.
For now, the Knicks are in a holding pattern until Anthony makes a decision. And if Anthony signs with another team, they would entertain a sign-and-trade with that team. That could be a way for the Knicks to recoup some assets.
Even though in 2011 Anthony wanted to move closer to his New York and Baltimore roots, the Knicks have not advanced past the Eastern Conference semifinals in his three-plus seasons in New York. They failed to make the playoffs this season, leading to changes.
Knicks owner James Dolan hired Jackson to bring a championship to New York. Jackson, who played for the last Knicks championship team in 1972-73, fired Mike Woodson as coach and recently hired Derek Fisher as the replacement.
Anthony might believe in Jackson's long-term plan and stay put. But Anthony appears poised to listen to other plans.
Original headline: Anthony sure to be in high demand
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