Despite efforts by New York Knicks president Phil Jackson to persuade him to remain under contract, forward Carmelo Anthony hasn't changed his mind and plans to opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer, according to a league source familiar with the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com earlier this week that Jackson is continuing to urge Anthony to exercise next season's $23.3 million player option and put off unrestricted free agency for one more year. Anthony, according to sources, has until June 23 to inform the Knicks whether he plans to opt out.
Jackson and other members of the Knicks' hierarchy met with Anthony and his representatives Friday night in Los Angeles, league sources confirmed. Knicks coach Derek Fisher and general manager Steve Mills also were at the meeting, although owner James Dolan was not present.
"This is Phil's show," one league source told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the Knicks' plan to meet with Anthony in Los Angeles. The team's full-court press is unlikely to change Anthony's mind. A league source said late Thursday night that at this point, he remains committed to opting out, something he had said publicly during the season.
Jackson first said late last month that he hoped Anthony would consider opting in for the final year of his contract, which would also give the Knicks a better idea of the free-agency landscape in 2015.
"I told him it might be a good idea to hang in here and see what it's like for a year and go out the next year," Jackson said. "But that's his option, that's what he's earned, and that's what's part of his contractual agreement. He has the right to do that. But I just offered that as, 'Look, this gives you an opportunity to see how this is going to change, see how we're going to get going, your relationship to the team and the coach and the system or whatever, the system we impose.' "
Jackson said when he first broached the subject with Anthony during a dinner meeting in late April, the All-Star forward was receptive to the idea. ESPN.com reported that Jackson has delivered the pitch to Anthony on multiple occasions during the past month.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Anthony intends to test free agency, beginning July 1, barring a "dramatic change of heart."
The Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are all teams Anthony would consider, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein, provided Anthony remains steadfast in his decision to opt out between now and June 23. Miami Heat officials also have started to explore their options in trying to create enough financial flexibility to land Anthony in free agency, ESPN.com reported earlier this week.
Anthony would have to make a monetary sacrifice if he decides to leave New York. With the Knicks, Anthony can sign a maximum five-year contract worth more than $129.1 million. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is about $96 million over four years. Anthony likely would have to sign for significantly less to join the Heat.
The Knicks are expected to have plenty of cap space in 2015 to try to reel in a big-name free agent to pair with Anthony.
Jackson said late last month that he "wasn't losing sleep" over Anthony's free-agency situation but was "definitely concerned" that Anthony might sign with another team.
"It only takes one bidder out there that has the ability and can ruin your hopes and your chances," Jackson said.
Fisher also has made it known that he hopes Anthony re-signs with the Knicks.
"I want to be extremely clear that I would love to have the opportunity to work [with] and coach Carmelo Anthony," Fisher said in an interview earlier this week on ESPN 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show." "I want him to be back with the New York Knicks and to remain a part of what we're trying to do here and what we will do. So I don't think anyone has expressed a lukewarm feeling about wanting him back. I think we're all trying to be respectful as people. Carmelo is a great person. He's a family guy, and they have decisions that are sometimes independent of what is best for everybody else. So you respect that process.
"So I would think Phil, Steve Mills, myself, we're trying hard not to turn this into a 'Carmelo, please stay' type of process. At the same time, we have no problem expressing that we do want him as part of this team. We feel we can win a championship with him as our core and centerpiece."