Carmelo Anthony will consider more than where he can win and make the most money when he decides where to play basketball next season.
His family and whether to uproot his young son and move him to another city also will be factors.
Anthony officially opted out of his contract Monday. But that doesn't mean he's played his last game as a Knick. They can pay him more than any other team -- five years, roughly $129 million when he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Chicago Bulls appear to be the Knicks' biggest threat at this point.
"Carmelo loves being a Knick," Anthony's agent Leon Rose said in a statement. "He loves the city and the fans. At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."
Throughout this past season, Anthony said he wants to remain a Knick, but he would take less money to play for a team that can win a championship.
The Knicks, as currently constituted, are not a contender, and might not be until the 2015-16 season. But in a recent interview with Vice Sports, Anthony said his family also would weigh in what he does.
"The average person just sees an opportunity to say, 'Melo should go here, Melo should go here, I think he should do this, I think he should do that,' " Anthony said. "But they don't take into consideration the family aspect of it, your livelihood, where you're going to be living, do you want your kids to grow up in that place, in that city, do I want to spend the rest of my career in that situation, in that city. All of that stuff comes into play.
"My son goes to school; he loves it here. To take him out and take him somewhere else, he'd have to learn that system all over again, he'd have to get all new friends. And I know how hard it was for me when I moved from New York to Baltimore at a young age, having to work to try and make friends, and try to fit in."
If Anthony leaves, the Bulls, Rockets, Heat, Mavericks and Lakers could be in play for him. Chicago, Houston and Miami would have to shed salaries to pay Anthony.
The most another team could pay him is roughly $96 million over four years. The Heat would come in between $55 million and $60 million if James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opt out and take big pay cuts, but not as big as Anthony would.
The Bulls have emerged as a leading landing spot because Anthony would play on a contender, in a major market and could get a near-max deal.
"The average person is looking at it as, next year, like it's just one year," Anthony said. "Next year, you'll win a championship if you go here. We're looking at the big picture here now. You're looking at the next six to eight years of your career, at the end of your career, at that. So do you want to spend that much time in that place?"
That could benefit the Knicks.
Team president Phil Jackson and new coach Derek Fisher are trying to build something and they want Anthony to be a cornerstone. With or without Anthony, the Knicks stand to be well under the salary cap next summer when Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol could be free agents. James could be on that list if he doesn't opt out by June 30. Anthony's deadline to forgo the $23.3 million left on his deal was Monday.
Jackson said last month that he was "definitely concerned" about losing Anthony, but he hopes he will take less than a maximum contract to give the Knicks more flexibility to sign other star players.
Jackson, Fisher and general manager Steve Mills met with Anthony in Los Angeles two weeks ago to discuss their plan to turn the Knicks into a championship-caliber team. Anthony said the meeting went "great." But it didn't impact his desire to be a free agent for the first time.
"Guys would like to have that situation and just see what it's about," Anthony said in October. "It doesn't mean that just because somebody wants to be that that they're going to leave."
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