Phil Jackson is trying to convince Carmelo Anthony not to opt out of his contract this summer. The Knicks' president is worried that Anthony could leave if he does.
"I'm not losing sleep over it but I'm definitely concerned about the idea of a guy going into free agency," Jackson said Friday morning. "It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances."
Anthony already has said he will opt out in June and test free agency beginning July 1. The Knicks can offer Anthony roughly $34 million more than any other team can, but the Bulls could have the money to make a serious run at Anthony. Other teams that could join the mix include the Lakers and Rockets.
Jackson has approached Anthony about finishing out his contract, seeing the changes the Knicks make and becoming a free agent after next year. Jackson said Anthony told him he will think about it.
"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," Jackson said. "But that's his option, that's what he's earned . . . 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,' the system we impose."
Jackson said if Anthony opts in, it could give the Knicks more flexibility in 2015 and put them in position to sign two "headline" free agents.
"Can we get two instead of just one?" Jackson said. "Yeah, that's a possibility. Reality of how to do that involves Carmelo's compliance."
Jackson has had dinner with Anthony since the season ended and informed him that Steve Kerr would be the Knicks' coach. Jackson said he hasn't talked to Anthony about the coaching search since Kerr instead went to Golden State, but he has maintained a dialogue. They spoke on the phone last week and Jackson said they probably will have dinner again.
"We have a communication that's gone on, and I like it," Jackson said. "I like the direction."
Jackson reiterated that the Knicks will "survive" if Anthony leaves, but he recognizes how valuable he is to their future.
"We recognize his talent and his skill is the kind of skill and talent that gets you through playoff games where things get sticky, grind out and basketball becomes a force game," Jackson said. "Suddenly you need to have a player who has the capabilities of scoring with someone hanging on them in a situation that's critical. He's one of those players, one of the few players who can do that."
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