GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Carmelo Anthony is conflicted about his future. He wants to win with the Knicks, but isn’t sure it’s going to happen.
After what he called an open and honest exit interview with team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills on Thursday, Anthony said “as of now” he’s not planning to waive his no-trade clause. But he challenged management to improve the Knicks to the point that they’re a perennial contender while Anthony is still an All-Star.
“As of right now I’ll be here,” Anthony said. “No conversation has taken place as far as me leaving or me wanting to leave. I think everybody knows how I feel about being here with this organization in New York, playing for the Knicks.
“It’s just a matter of how do we get better? How do we move forward? How do we take advantage of this window that I have? I think that’s the main question: How can we take advantage of this window? How can we take advantage of this situation that we have that’s in front of us?”
Anthony also said he thinks the Knicks should have an open coaching search with “multiple considerations.” But Jackson said he’s promised an interview only to interim coach Kurt Rambis and likely would hire someone he knows and with whom he has “compatibility.”
Anthony, who will be 32 next month and has three years left on his contract, made the playoffs his first 10 years in the league. But the Knicks missed out the past three seasons.
Jackson was hired to provide stability and a winning culture, but the Knicks went 17-65 and 32-50 in his first two full seasons. Some view this season as progress, but Anthony doesn’t, and said the organization has to define what success is.
“We still haven’t made progress enough to get to the postseason, to get to the playoffs,” Anthony said. “To not experience that over the past three seasons, it makes you question a lot. It makes you think a lot. It definitely put a lot of things into perspective.
“I want to win. I want to be able to be in that situation, and that position to compete at the highest level.”
Anthony said he wasn’t sure if it would ever happen while he’s in a Knicks uniform.
“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” Anthony said. “What is successful for us as the New York Knicks? I think that is kind of the question that we have to ask ourselves as a whole organization. Not just winning another 15, 16 games than we did this year, playing for the eighth seed. Is that success? Or being a top seed in the Eastern Conference, being a top team in the NBA, is that success?
“Winning a championship is always the ultimate success, so I think we got to put things in perspective and figure out what success means to this organization right now.”
Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis are two cornerstones, and Robin Lopez played well, but the Knicks need a better backcourt and improved players all around. They don’t have a draft pick this year and have around $18 million for free agency. Jackson said that figure could almost double depending on player opt-outs and other transactions.
Anthony thinks the Knicks can be in the running for the top free agents. Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan and Mike Conley head the class. Jackson said agents have told the Knicks they want to play with Porzingis, but that the team has a lot of holes.
“We’re in a skills race,” Jackson said. “That’s what we’re working toward: getting players skilled enough to perform in this game.’’
Jackson also said if the Knicks improve by 15 games again next year, they could be a top seed in the East. But that’s not guaranteed, and that was Anthony’s stance: He wants to see something sustainable built.
“The only thing I think about is winning more,” Anthony said. “Whether it’s here or somewhere else, that’s the only thing I think about. I haven’t thought about putting myself on another team. I haven’t thought about any of that.
“My thought process is how can I make this situation better? What can we do to make this situation better? That’s the only thing I’m thinking about.”