LAS VEGAS - Derek Fisher said his message to Carmelo Anthony when Knicks officials met with him last week was that the team will win, and he hopes that got through to him. But, like everyone else, the new Knicks coach is waiting for Anthony's decision.
"It's about winning, from what I could gather," Fisher said Tuesday after summer league practice. "He wants to win. He wants to be successful, and so in the time I had to visit with him, I just shared with him that we'll be a better basketball team because we'll play the game in a better way. We'll play as a team, we'll play with a system with the format that allows the game to be easier for him and easier for his teammates.
"I'm not sure if we hit home. I guess we'll find out, but hopefully we'll find out soon."
The free-agent process began in earnest for Anthony eight days ago when he traveled to Chicago and spent nine hours with members of the Bulls organization. He also visited with the Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Knicks.
Anthony is choosing among the Knicks, Bulls and Lakers, and his decision could come at any time. The longer it drags on could be seen as an ominous sign for the Knicks.
"He was very transparent in saying he would take some time with his family before he decided on what his future would be," Fisher said. "We're all kind of in wait-and-see mode like everyone else. When he's ready to announce it, I'm sure he will."
The Knicks can pay Anthony the most -- $129 million. The Lakers have offered him the maximum they are allowed ($96 million). The Bulls can give Anthony about $55 million less than the Knicks unless they agree on a sign-and-trade. But of the three, Chicago has the best chance to contend now.
Anthony has said playing for a team with a chance to compete for a championship was his priority. He also said he would take less than a max deal if it gave the Knicks room to sign other players.
But Knicks president Phil Jackson told Anthony in their meeting Thursday in Los Angeles that he would give him a five-year, $129-million contract.
Jackson didn't speak to reporters when he left practice Tuesday, other than saying hello and telling them to "stay out of the heat." Some joked it was a subliminal message to Anthony, with speculation continuing that he somehow could wind up in Miami.
Many teams are in limbo as they await Anthony and LeBron James to make their decisions. James is scheduled to meet with Heat president Pat Riley Wednesday in Las Vegas. James had dinner with Dwyane Wade Monday night.
The Heat is still the favorite to sign James, but some believe the Cavaliers have a legitimate shot to bring him back to Cleveland. If James leaves, Chris Bosh may bolt, too, and sign with Houston. But if James stays and Bosh leaves, there would be a spot open in Miami's frontcourt for Anthony.
The Knicks aren't as good as the Bulls, Heat, Rockets or Mavericks, all playoff teams last season. But Jackson is trying to make inroads. Pau Gasol is on Jackson's radar, but the Thunder, Bulls and Spurs also are pursuing him. The Lakers hope to re-sign Gasol and form their own Big Three with him, Kobe Bryant and Anthony.
The Knicks have only the $3.2-million exception to offer to free agents unless they can move Amar'e Stoudemire or Andrea Bargnani and take little back. Both players, whose salaries total $34.9 million, come off the books after next season.
Last month, Jackson upgraded at point guard when he acquired Jose Calderon, who should be a good fit in the triangle.
In the same deal with Dallas, the Knicks also received Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and draft picks Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. But Fisher did not say whether the trade impressed Anthony.
"I can't speak for him, but obviously we're excited about all of the players that came over in the trade," he said. "We're excited about the things that are going on right now. We'll see what happens going forward."
Notes & quotes: Rasheed Hazzard, who worked for the Lakers and is Walt Hazzard's son, and Joshua Longstaff, who worked as a video analyst and in player development for the Thunder, will join Fisher's staff as assistant coaches. Fisher said he likely will add two more assistants.
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