Melo offers ideas on free-agent targets

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony is taking a very active role in shaping the New York Knicks’ offseason plans.

GM Steve Mills said on Thursday night that Anthony has been talking to the front office recently about players he’d like to see the Knicks pursue in free agency.

“He is very much a part of the process of trying to understand what we’re looking for, how we’re going about it,” Mills said in a discussion with season-ticket holders at Madison Square Garden.

Mills said that Anthony had been spending hours in his office going through rosters and talking about players the Knicks may pursue during his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

New York is expected to have at least $25 million to spend in free agency this summer.

On Monday, Mills talked in detail about the organization’s process in targeting free agents.

“What’s interesting is that it’s not just the next three months, this is a process that we’ve been [undertaking] for the entire year in terms of trying to think through what has to happen,” Mills said.

The GM added that he has spent a significant amount of time talking to agents and telling them about the kind of team the Knicks want to become.

He said he’s “constantly planting seeds on why this would be a good place.”

New York will be trying to lure free agents following its worst season in franchise history. But Mills, predictably, believes that the team’s record will not be a deterrent.

“They understand where we are. They understand that we’re going to have a good draft pick,” he said.

Phil Jackson said on Monday that he’s hoping to get two starting-caliber players in free agency. He also will be looking for big men because, outside of Anthony, the Knicks have none under contract for next season.

People around the league familiar with the team’s thinking expect the Knicks to show interest in Detroit big man Greg Monroe. But, as Jackson pointed out, the Knicks’ targets in free agency will depend on what they do with their draft pick.

If they draft one of the top collegiate big men, the Knicks will likely pursue players in free agency who can fit alongside that player and Anthony.

Mills hopes that Madison Square Garden serves as a selling point for free agents. He also said that the Knicks will not pursue a big-name player just to make a splash, as was the case during previous regimes.

“I’ve been here for a long time and this is what I really enjoy about working with Phil -- he gives us an opportunity to make decisions that are not about public pressure, not about what the media says,” Mills said. “It’s about what we think we need to do to build a great basketball team. And that’s something that hasn’t been the case.”