Carmelo Anthony said he is a “New York Knick at heart” and agreed to re-sign with the National Basketball Association franchise.
“This organization has supported me and in return, I want to stay and build here with this city and my team,” the seven-time All-Star wrote on his website yesterday.
Anthony, 30, last month opted out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks to test the free-agent market. He traveled the country, spurning offers from the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to attempt to win a championship in New York.
“During this journey I met with some quality organizations who have amazing talent and leadership,” Anthony wrote. “I thank them for their consideration, belief in my talent, and opportunity to imagine the possibilities.”
Anthony said he is looking forward to working with new team President Phil Jackson, calling him “a champion who builds championship teams.”
Terms weren’t disclosed. ESPN said Anthony will receive a five-year contract worth between $122 million and $129 million.
Anthony, who last year said he knows the “window is closing” to bring a championship to the Knicks, is coming off a season in which he missed the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year career. His return was important for a franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1973 and Jackson, the 11-time championship winning coach who was hired this offseason.
“After three months of questions around Carmelo Anthony’s return to the New York Knicks, we are now happy to know that we have the cornerstone of what we envision as a ’team of excellence,’” Jackson said in a statement.
Jackson had already started reshaping the team, hiring Derek Fisher as coach after firing Mike Woodson and trading center Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to the Mavericks. That deal brought the Knicks two draft picks along with point guard Jose Calderon and three other players.
The Bulls were listed at the start of free agency by online sports book Bovada.lv as the 2-3 favorites to sign Anthony, who has averaged 25.3 points a game over his NBA career. Chicago, which had sought to team Anthony with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, had a red-carpet welcome for Anthony at the United Center that featured video signs of him in a Bulls jersey.
The Lakers also made a push to team him with Kobe Bryant as part of a rebuilding effort following a 27-55 season, their worst record since the franchise moved from Minneapolis in 1960. Among those involved in the Lakers’ pitch to Anthony was team President Jeanie Buss, who is engaged to Jackson.
Anthony is close friends with Bryant, a 16-time All-Star who has won five titles with the Lakers, and has an offseason home in Los Angeles, yet ultimately opted to stay in New York.
Fisher, who played alongside All-Stars such as Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Durant over 18 NBA seasons, said having Anthony back in New York will have a significant impact on his rookie season as a coach.
“I look forward to working with him and building something special together,” Fisher, 39, said in the statement.
Anthony averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists a game last season as the Knicks went 37-45.
In other agreements over the weekend: 10-time All-Star Paul Pierce said he's joining the Washington Wizards; Pau Gasol is leaving the Los Angeles Lakers for the Chicago Bulls; and forward Luol Deng is heading to the Miami Heat.
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