Carmelo Anthony will inform the Knicks Monday that he is opting out of his contract and will become a free agent July 1, a league source said.
Monday is the deadline for Anthony to make this move, and it was hardly a secret that it was his plan all along to forgo the remaining $23.3 million left on his deal.
The Knicks can pay Anthony more money than another team -- roughly $129 million over five years. But the perennial All-Star has said he would be willing to take less if it helps give his team a better chance to contend.
He would have to take far less if he went to another team, and that is a strong possibility since the Knicks are in no position right now to compete for a title.
The Bulls appear to be the Knicks' stiffest competition for Anthony. But the Rockets and Heat also could put themselves in position to make a run at Anthony. And, like Chicago, they could be playing for a title immediately with the addition of Anthony. The most another team can pay Anthony is about $95 million for four years. The Heat could only give him about $55 million to $60 million if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opt out and take big pay cuts.
Chicago, Houston and Miami all have to make moves to clear money to sign Anthony. The Bulls are attractive to Anthony because they have Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, a top coach in Tom Thibodeau and play in a major market.
Anthony is said to be torn on leaving the Knicks. He loves New York and forced a trade here in 2011. But he has said winning will be more important than money this offseason.
Anthony is 30, has advanced out of the first round of the playoffs only twice and missed the postseason this year for the first time in his career.
Knicks president Phil Jackson had hoped Anthony would "opt in," see if he liked playing for new coach Derek Fisher and in the triangle offense before becoming a free agent in 2015. That also would give the Knicks additional flexibility in 2015 when they're set to be well under the salary cap.
As of now, the Knicks plan to build through free agency the next two summers. Anthony may not be willing to wait at least a year to potentially play for a contender. If Anthony leaves altogether, the Knicks will be able to sign two marquee players next summer.
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