Today we've been reading all about how the Heat could make a play for Carmelo Anthony. Several teams could, but also the Heat could, and they're scarier than other teams. The prospect of Melo leaving is something we must consider, but Knicks folks speaking publicly have tried to pull that conversation back to the preceding decision point.
Last time Phil Jackson held a press conference, he confirmed that he'd encouraged Melo to opt into the final season of his contract, giving the new regime a year to prove themselves. He told us Melo said he'd think about it. Then during Tuesday's press conference, Derek Fisher responded to a question about Melo staying or going by discussing whether or not Melo would choose to become a free agent at all, which is a different question. The Knicks want us-- and mostly want Melo-- to remember the opt-in option.
Buuuuut yeah, he's almost definitely not going to opt in. We've already been told that and could have guessed it ourselves, but now Frank Isola has sources:
Barring a dramatic change of heart, Anthony will opt out of his contact and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, the Daily News has learned.
(Please also consult the Heat photoshop in that article. It's hilarious.)
Opting out wouldn't mean Melo is leaving, it would just mean Melo CAN leave, and if he stays it'll be on a long-term contract.
According to Chris Herring's sources, the Knicks' latest-- perhaps final-- push before the June 23 opt-in deadline will come tonight:
Carmelo Anthony is slated to sit down with Knicks team president Phil Jackson Thursday night in what figures to be the final meeting between the star forward and team executives before Anthony decides whether to enter free agency this summer, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Jackson, who will be joined by new head coach Derek Fisher and general manager Steve Mills, is expected to lay out how both Anthony and the organization could benefit from the 30-year-old opting in for the final year of his contract.
In short: The Knicks want Melo to opt in and delay free agency a year. They'll meet with him and presumably push that option tonight. Based on everything we've heard from reports and previously from Melo himself, they will fail and Melo will choose to become an unrestricted free agent. THEN the discussion will officially shift from "free agent or nah" to "stay or go."
Update (2:49 PM, Friday): Woj now says the Knicks are sending a "high-level delegation" (including Fisher) to meet with Melo in L.A. this weekend. So maybe the meeting didn't happen last night. Whatever.