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Knicks’ Anthony On Free Agency: Winning, Not Money, Is Top Priority

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carmelo Anthony said he wants to stay in New York, and said he wants to win.

It will be up to Phil Jackson to convince him that he can do both.

With the Knicks’ season over and Anthony missing the playoffs for the first time in his career, he can begin thinking about his future. He plans to become a free agent in July and wants to be someplace where he can compete for championships.

The Knicks never came close this season, going 37-45. Anthony said it was a “failure” and an “embarrassment” that he’s unwilling to go through again, which could force him to look elsewhere since New York will have trouble changing its roster next season.

“I want to come back. I also want to win. Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever, five years, the contract would be, then I’m willing to stay here,” Anthony said Thursday while wearing a red hat with the letters “NY” at the Knicks’ training center.

He met with Jackson, who took over as team president in March and has said he could envision Anthony as a central piece of the Knicks’ future. Less clear is what he thinks about coach Mike Woodson, who received a strong endorsement from the Knicks’ leading scorer.

“To be honest with you, Mike Woodson, me and him have become, he’s been a guy I can talk to,” Anthony said. “He’s been almost a father figure, a friend, a guy who I can bounce stuff off of. I’ve been a guy he’s talked to multiple times about multiple things, different situations. So when that time comes, if it’s ready for me to step up and take that next step and say, ‘OK, Mike Woodson needs to stay or go’ — I don’t think it would come down to that — but I’ll back him. If he needs my recommendation, whether it’s here or anywhere else, I’ll back him.”

Amar’e Stoudemire said Woodson wasn’t a part of his exit meeting with Jackson and general manager Steve Mills, and he hadn’t seen him Thursday.

Steve Kerr, a former player under Jackson, has been linked to the Knicks’ coaching job since last month. Kerr “absolutely expects” and would “definitely” accept an offer, according to the New York Post.

Woodson led the Knicks to 54 wins and a division title last season, and the Knicks embraced their high expectations coming into 2013-14. But they got off to a dismal start and couldn’t recover, bad timing with their best player having the option to leave.

The Knicks can pay Anthony around $30 million more than any other team, but won’t have much financial flexibility to build around him until a number of contracts come off the books following the 2014-15 season.

“Let’s be quite frank. At this point in my career, I’m not concerned about the money,” Anthony said. “Without a doubt, at this point in my career it’s about winning. Nothing else even matters. That’s not going to change. That’s still going to be my mindset. It is my mindset. That’s going to be my No. 1 thing.”

Yet Tyson Chandler, who like Stoudemire owns one of those contracts, said changing the players wasn’t what the franchise needed.

“I think a lot around here is made about personnel and this and that. I don’t think that’s it,” he said. “I personally think that you have to bring a winning culture around here, and until that’s established, you can rotate players as much as you want. It’s not going to make a difference.”

That winning culture has escaped the Knicks, who last won a championship in 1973 when Jackson was a player here. Anthony said he understood it would take time after he was traded to New York in 2011, but said he’s “not at a point in my career where I want to rebuild” as he prepares to turn 30 next month.

“I don’t know if I can afford to wait another season of losing. I really can’t see that picture right now,” Anthony said. “As far as other teams that’s out there, which quote-unquote team would be a better situation, you never know. Sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side, so this is stuff that I’m going to have to sit down with myself and my family and really figure this out. This is not a decision that’s going to happen overnight.”

He has time to think, since he can’t play basketball now anyway. He began rehab on his right shoulder, which has a torn labrum, on Wednesday.

“I just want to get away, kind of decompress and kind of clear my mind, because I don’t want to come into this thing with a clouded judgment or things like that,” Anthony said. “When I come back, my mind will be clear.”

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