On Thursday, New York Knicks President Phil Jackson said he felt confident Carmelo Anthony was coming back to the Knicks, even though he had not talked to the all star in a few days, and even though Anthony had not responded to his text messages.
"I felt really good about my conversation with Melo," Jackson said, according to ESPN. "We really struck a chord. The two of us, I think, feel really passionately about what we're trying to get accomplished. It's his ability to stay, be patient, lead and watch us develop a winner. There's no instantaneous winner that we think is going to happen to the Knicks right now, but we're going to be a lot better."
Jackson said the Knicks have made five different contract offers to Anthony, one of which is believed to be a maximum deal of $129 million over five years.
Over the course of the last week, Anthony visited the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers, and had more meetings with Knicks while in L.A.
The Lakers are prepared to offer Anthony a four-year, $97 million contract, the most allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. For the Bulls, he would more than likely take a pay cut. The same is true in Dallas, and Houston seems to already have dropped out of the Anthony sweepstakes, so it seems like it's a decision between the Lakers and Knicks at this point.
Jackson said he has also spoken with free-agent forward Pau Gasol about joining the Knicks, as Jackson tries to mold his new team into a winner. Jackson and Gasol were involved in two NBA title runs while together in Los Angeles. Jackson has the record for the most titles in NBA history with 13; He has two for playing and 11 for coaching.
"I think he would like to play with Carmelo, and I think he would like to play with a winner," Jackson said to ESPN.
Gasol is also being courted heavily by the Bulls, Thunder, Rockets and Lakers. He would need to take a significant pay cut to sign with the Knicks. Gasol made around $19 million last season, but the Knicks have only the $3.3 million exception to offer free agents at the moment. The max they could offer after making trades, if they didn't have to give it to Anthony, would be $5 million. Gasol has made it clear he wants to win, so he may be inclined to join his old coach Jackson, and his old teammate Derek Fisher, who now coaches the Knicks. He has also said he will take a pay cut to play with a contender, and currently there are no teams offering him the kind of money he made last year.
Jackson has talked recently with teams about the possibility of trading Amar'e Stoudemire to unload his $23.4 million salary, sources say. That move would free up cap space and increase the money the Knicks can offer free agents. If they can find someone to take Stoudemire's contract, then they may be able to get on the right track for next year.