MIAMI - As rumors continue to swirl about Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James wanting to team together, the Heat superstar said he isn't thinking past Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Like Anthony, James can opt out of his contract this summer. Anthony has said he will, but James hasn't committed to anything and could wait until next summer to be a free agent.
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James seems happy in Miami, where he's going for a third straight NBA championship, and he trusts Heat owner Mickey Arison and team president Pat Riley. When James was asked to rank what matters most to him when deciding where to play he said it's the furthest thing from his mind.
"I don't know how I'll prioritize it this summer or in the future," James said. "That's kind of like on the back burner right now. Me figuring out how I'm going to prioritize guarding Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard and [Tim] Duncan and Danny Green and [Manu] Ginobili, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter and the list goes on and on, Matt Bonner, Gregg Popovich and Ime Udoka and the rest of those guys. So the last thing I'm going to think about right now is how I'm going to prioritize me going into the future."
James and Anthony are close friends. But it's hard to foresee James leaving the Heat for the Knicks even with Phil Jackson running the show.
A more plausible scenario would be for Anthony to join James in Miami. Anthony would have to take a major pay cut, and a backseat to James when it comes to being "The Man." It's unclear if he would be willing to do that at this stage of his career. But ESPN is reporting that the Heat is exploring options to create the space to sign Anthony, while keeping the Big Three intact.
The Lakers will be under the cap and there was a report that they might try to bring in both players. But James, Anthony and Kobe Bryant producing an effective championship-caliber Big Three like the one James has in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh doesn't seem likely.
Jackson has said he hopes Anthony won't opt out this summer. He has to let the Knicks know by June 23 whether he will, which he is expected to do.The Bulls and Rockets also could try and lure Anthony away from the Knicks, who can pay him $34 million more than any other team.Anthony has said winning is his No. 1 priority. Jackson plans to show Anthony his blueprint for making the Knicks a winner, and he believes hiring Derek Fisher as coach is the first step and is viewed as a positive by Anthony.
"I have no doubt about that," Jackson said during an interview with NBA TV Wednesday. "I talked to Carmelo about it before it happened. I told him this is the direction I'm going. I hope he has a good relationship with Derek. This is my conviction that he's a guy who's going to bring a sound approach to the game. One of the things that Derek was able to do was he was able to be one of the agents that made team basketball work."
Jackson said he plans to meet with Anthony and his representatives at some point this week.The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.