LAS VEGAS - The top of the front page of Carmelo Anthony's official website read "MY CITY, MY HEART" Sunday afternoon. That was Anthony's way of announcing that he is re-signing with the Knicks.
Posted just before 12:30 p.m., the message revealed what already was known: Anthony isn't going anywhere. He will sign a five-year deal worth about $120 million and be the "cornerstone" of Phil Jackson's plan to turn the team into a contender for a title.
"This organization has supported me and in return, I want to stay and build here with this city and my team," Anthony wrote on his website. "At this pivotal juncture in my career, I owed it to myself and my family to explore all of the options available to me. Through it all, my heart never wavered.
"I am a New York Knick at heart. I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world."
The Knicks offered Anthony a five-year, $129-million contract, but Jackson -- who called Anthony "the cornerstone of what we envision as a team of excellence" -- said the seven-time All-Star will take less than that to give the Knicks more flexibility to sign players next summer, when they will be well under the salary cap.
"He did exactly what we kind of asked him to do, give us a break in the early part of his contract," Jackson said. "So when we have some wiggle room, which will be hopefully big enough wiggle room, we can exploit it, provide a more competitive team for our group."
Anthony visited the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers, but after forcing the Nuggets to trade him to the Knicks three years ago, the Brooklyn native didn't want to leave. He will be the focal point of new coach Derek Fisher's triangle offense.
The Knicks could -- and did -- offer Anthony $34 million more than any other team. Jackson said what took so long was getting the "structure of the financials" sorted out. "We're glad that Carmelo has seen that we have the vision, trusted us with what we anticipate," Jackson said. "He plied and impressed upon us his desire to win, to be on a competitive team. Our message to him was we are going to be a competitive team. It may not be instantaneous.''
"He may not be just be able to drop in and win a championship. It's going to be something that we're goal oriented, and that's the direction we're going. We're really happy he came through and agreed to ply his talents with us."
When asked how long it will take for the Knicks to become a championship-level team, Jackson said it depends.
"If they evolve as a team, we could do it really rather quickly," Jackson said. "If we're still going to sit and rely on Carmelo to do everything and put that load on him, it's not going to happen. That's what we wanted to show him is that we want to evolve as a team, and sometimes it means buying into the system and giving yourself into a process. That process can take time. Hopefully it's a shorter time than longer."
The Knicks went 37-45 last season and Anthony missed the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year career. But the Eastern Conference is wide open now that LeBron James has left Miami and returned to Cleveland.
Jackson already has made improvements, adding Jose Calderon and drafting Cleanthony Early in the second round. But the Knicks' chances of being a playoff team greatly improve with Anthony back.
"I have had the opportunity to be around some of the greatest players in our game, and now I have the honor of coaching Carmelo," Fisher said. "This is an exciting time for the New York Knicks franchise and our fans. I look forward to working with him and building something special together."
The Dolan family owns
controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square
Garden and Cablevision.
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