The countdown begins…

Carmelo Anthony opted out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks to become an unrestricted free agent.  He can officially begin talking to teams on July 1st and in the second week of July he will reportedly make his decision according to Yahoo Sports.

Though the Chicago Bulls have been listed as the frontrunner to land the prized free agent, the source says no team is in the lead at the moment.  In addition to the Bulls, Anthony will meet with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and again with the New York Knicks.  There was no mention of the Miami Heat although there’s been rumblings of Anthony possibly teaming up with LeBron James who opted out of his contract as well.

Knicks president Phil Jackson remains hopeful that Anthony will re-sign with the team.  ” We have every confidence that Carmelo is good for what his word is, that he wants to be in New York, he likes playing in New York, he wants to compete, he wants to be part of a playoff team that is competitive toward a championship,” said Jackson.

The Knicks selling point is not only Jackson running things but they also can offer Anthony the most money with a five-year, $130 million contract compared to the four years and about $96 million other teams can offer.  Jackson says they haven’t discussed giving Anthony the max contract but have discussed the possibility of him taking a pay cut in order to improve the roster.  Anthony has maintained that being on a championship contender and winning is the most important thing to him, not the money.

“When I take his word, he’s the one who opened that up, that it wasn’t about the money,” Jackson said. “So I challenged him on that, because I wanted our fans to see he’s a team player, that he was going to do what’s best to get our team ahead farther and faster.”

– Shaina Auxilly  (@Shay_Marie)