BALTIMORE -- Carmelo Anthony says he plans to test free agency. But that doesn't necessarily mean he plans to leave the Knicks.
"It's definitely an opportunity that I'm willing to explore and experience," Anthony said Thursday morning. "That not whatsoever means that I'm not coming back to New York or I don't want to be here in New York. So I don't want nobody to get that impression."
Anthony reiterated Thursday that he will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Knicks and test free agency this summer.
If Anthony opts out, it makes financial sense for him to re-sign with New York.
With the Knicks, he could ink a five-year contract worth about $129.1 million. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is about $95.9 million over four years, according to calculations by ESPN salary-cap expert Larry Coon. Those numbers are based on the assumption that Anthony, one of the top scorers in the NBA, will sign a max contract.
Anthony had an opportunity to become a free agent at the end of the 2010-11 season. Instead, he signed a contract extension with the Knicks shortly after being dealt to New York.
Now, he's intrigued by the idea of being courted as a free agent.
"Guys would like to have that situation and just see what it's about," Anthony said. "It doesn't mean that just because somebody wants to be [a free agent] that they're going to leave. Me leaving would never [come] across in my mind."
Knicks coach Mike Woodson, for one, thinks Anthony is staying put.
"I think so. You ask me today, yes, absolutely," Woodson said. "I don’t see him leaving. That’s just my thought."
The Knicks, who will make every effort to retain Anthony, can begin extension negotiations with him in February. But if Anthony decides to opt out, New York will likely have plenty of competition for his services.
"What other team would they [the media] say?" Anthony said of the Lakers. "I don't think they would say any other team. If you look at situations, that's the only team that they probably would say."
Anthony was asked if he'd consider playing only in a big market such as Los Angeles.
"I'm in New York. Like I said, this is not something that I want to keep going on," Anthony said. "At the end of the day, I don't want to go anywhere, I don't plan on going anywhere. But when that time comes, I'll deal with that situation."
It's worth noting that some big-name free agents under the most recent CBA have opted to sign with another team rather than staying with their former teams for more money.
Howard's decision to leave the Lakers seemed to take Woodson by surprise.
"If I was a Laker, I don’t know if I would ever have left the Lakers because of what they’d done over the years," Woodson said. "[But] it has changed. Players are always looking for something better. That’s just a sign of the times. It’s different. It’s what it is. But Melo, if he’s going to test, it he’s got to test it. That’s on him."
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