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Carmelo Anthony's sole motivation: Winning a championship

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks reacts after scoring

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks reacts after scoring a fourth-quarter basket against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 14, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Carmelo Anthony could have been letting Knicks officials know what it will take to keep him -- or that he already has one foot out the door.

Anthony reiterated Monday that the only thing that matters to him is winning an NBA title. "That's the only thing I care about," he said after practice. "Anything else is irrelevant to me as far as when it comes to basketball. Championship is the only thing that's on my mind, is the only thing I want to accomplish, I want to achieve, and I'm going to do what I got to do to get that. That's my motivating factor. Nothing else even motivates me anymore, just that."

The Knicks (17-27) are tied for ninth with the Pistons in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Bobcats for the final playoff spot.

Anthony, 29, is in his 11th NBA season. His teams have made the playoffs every year, but they've gotten past the first round only twice.

Anthony already has said he will opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent. During training camp, he sounded as if leaving the Knicks was the last thing on his mind, but he hasn't seemed as sure about that during this disappointing season.

Although the Knicks can give him about $34 million more than any other team in free agency, their struggles could have changed his thinking, especially if he feels his NBA mortality creeping in. "It's hard to say at this very moment how it affects me," he said. "But for me, I got to keep that motivation into the 'now.' And then when that time comes, you deal with that situation then. But right now, that's still my motivation. That's still my goal."

Anthony has scored 97 points in the last two games. The Knicks will go for their third straight win Tuesday night against Boston and Rajon Rondo, whom they have tried to acquire. Landing him would help keep Anthony in the fold.

Otherwise, the Lakers and Bulls could have the money this offseason to pursue him. They would seem to have better shots at contending than the Knicks as presently constituted. There also has been speculation that the Knicks and Clippers could engage in trade talks centered around Anthony and Blake Griffin before the Feb. 20 deadline.

Anthony maintains that he's focused on the present. "We're having our trouble right now, but we got to deal with that," he said. "I can't turn my back and just say I don't want to deal with it. I got to deal with it face to face, and that's what I'm doing right now. Hopefully we get through this slump that we're in and try to make a push."

"When that time comes for me to figure out what I want to do with my future, then that time will come and I'll deal with that at that time."

Anthony's wife, La La, said during an interview with Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live'' that she "definitely'' thinks he will re-sign with the Knicks. "I definitely think he will stay,'' she said. "I know that he wants to stay and I support him wherever he wants to go.''

Notes & quotes:

The Celtics beat the Knicks by 41 in their last visit to the Garden on Dec. 8, and Anthony said he and his teammates will be thinking about payback Tuesday night.

"That game left a bitter taste in my mouth and everybody's mouth," he said. "It was unacceptable that game. We remember that."

"Tomorrow we're going to come out and build on this momentum but also keep that in the back of our minds that they came here on our home court and beat us the way they did."

The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Knicks, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.

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