LAS VEGAS — Nine months of nearly daily speculation about Carmelo Anthony’s future came to an end Saturday when he agreed to re-sign with the New York Knicks, positioning himself as the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.
Anthony, one of the NBA’s elite scorers, made his decision one day after LeBron James sent tremors across the league by returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The two players were the top free agents on the market this summer, with the ability to alter the landscape of the league depending on where each wanted to play.
It was not immediately clear if Anthony had signed a contract, or what the terms of a new deal were. But a source familiar with negotiations confirmed that Anthony would return to the team, which was first reported by the New York Daily News and Yahoo. The Knicks declined to comment.
Anthony was eligible for a contract that would pay him nearly $130 million over five years, more than any other team could offer, according to league rules. Such a lucrative deal comes fraught with risk, though. Anthony, 30, is banking on the notion that Phil Jackson, newly installed as the team’s chief decision-maker, can help turn the Knicks, one of the league’s perennial under-performers, into a contender with the clock ticking on Anthony’s career.
The Knicks, too, are making a substantial investment in a player who has not always elevated the play of his team. Anthony, a seven-time All-Star, has appeared in 13 playoff series over the course of his 11-year career, with his team winning just three of them.
Late last month, Anthony opted out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him more than $23 million next season. On July 1, he officially became a free agent, enabling himself to be courted by several teams, including the Chicago Bulls. Now, after days of deliberating, he has decided to stay put.
Kenyon Martin, a free agent who played for the Knicks last season, said he was not surprised to learn that Anthony was re-signing with the team.
“He wants to win a championship in New York,” Martin said before the Knicks’ summer league team faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon.
Last week, Jackson was optimistic about Anthony remaining with the team. Speaking with reporters at the Knicks’ summer league practice in Las Vegas, he said he felt “really good” about the meeting he had with Anthony in Los Angeles on July 3.
Last season, Anthony assembled one of the finest statistical seasons of his career. He averaged 27.4 points and a career-best 8.1 rebounds while playing 38.7 minutes per game, the most in the league. Yet the Knicks finished with a 37-45 record.