Melo: Title is 'the only thing on my mind'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If you want it, then you gotta put a ring on it.

That was the message Carmelo Anthony seemed to ever-so-subtly deliver to the New York Knicks on Monday.

Anthony, a free-agent-to-be, was asked about his desire to win an NBA title. He said with no uncertainty that winning a championship is his sole focus -- and will be for the rest of his career.

“That’s the only thing I care about. Anything else is irrelevant to me when it comes to basketball,” Anthony said after Monday's practice. “Championship is the only thing that’s on my mind, is the only thing I want to accomplish, I want to achieve, and I’m going to do what I got to do to get that. That’s my motivating factor. Nothing else even motivates me anymore, just that.”

That statement itself isn’t newsworthy. But when you consider Anthony’s pending free agency, it takes on a little more meaning.

It’s clear an opportunity to win an NBA title will be high on Anthony’s wish list when he considers his suitors this summer.

In addition to the Knicks, Anthony is expected to be courted by the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams could create enough cap space to sign Anthony.

Anthony was asked Monday if his dreams of chasing a championship will impact his free-agency decision.

“I mean, it’s hard to say at this very moment how it affects me, but for me I gotta keep that motivation into the ‘now.’ And then when that time comes, you deal with that situation then. But right now, that’s still my motivation. That’s still my goal,” Anthony said.

At 17-27, the Knicks are playing well-below expectations. They have alternated five-game winning and losing streaks this month. New York has won two in a row heading into Tuesday’s home game against the Celtics.

So is Anthony confident he can win a title with this team?

“My confidence level will never change," Anthony, who scored a combined 97 points in his past two games, said. "We’re having our trouble right now, but we gotta deal with that. I can’t turn my back and just say I don’t want to deal with it. I gotta deal with it face to face. And that’s what I’m doing right now. Hopefully we get through this slump that we’re in and try to make a push. But right now I’m taking it one game at a time and see what happens. When that time comes for me to figure out what I want to do with my future, then that time will come and I’ll deal with that at that time.”

All of the title talk arose from Kobe Bryant's recent comments about Anthony. Bryant on Sunday pointed out one way for Carmelo to be viewed as more than just a scorer is to win a title.

"The only way to do that is win," Bryant said. "That's it. I won five championships and there's some of you guys [who] still say that. You just got to take it and roll with it. The important thing is winning a championship. That's the only way to shake it. That's the only way Michael [Jordan] shook it. That's the only way any top scorer will be able to shake it."

One thing worth noting when thinking about Anthony’s free agency: He can make more money if he re-signs with the Knicks instead of another suitor.

With New York, Anthony could ink a maximum five-year contract worth $129,135,806. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is $95,897,372 over four years, according to calculations by ESPN salary-cap expert Larry Coon.

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