Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
“I have no problems with committing to saying Carmelo is in the future plans,” Jackson said. “I think there are a number of things I see Carmelo doing as he moves forward, and I think I was on record saying a year ago that I think Carmelo, as great a player as he is, still has another level he can go to. And I hope together, with the team we create, he can get there.”
Jackson later said in an interview on ESPN 98.7 Radio in New York that he believes Anthony will opt to remain in New York.
“He realizes that there’s … strong hope and there’s a strong reason for him to stay. He added: “‘Financially, its a better opportunity in New York.”
On the same radio program, owner James Dolan was asked what would happen if Jackson wanted to let Anthony depart via free agency.
“It’s his decision, that’s my agreement with him,” Dolan said.
Anthony has said he will opt out and become a free agent this summer but also that he looks forward to meeting with Jackson now that he’s in charge. Anthony told reporters Monday that he’s willing to do “whatever” to help the team win under Jackson.
“As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it,” Anthony said. “So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me — I’m still willing to learn the game of basketball. And I haven’t won anything. So he’s won a lot.”
Jackson suggested that Anthony has had success as a “bench” player on the 2012 Olympic team which won a gold medal in London, when he had other great players around him.
Jackson also said he wants the Knicks’ coach — whether it’s Mike Woodson or someone else — to employ aspects of the triangle and that he believes Anthony can accomodate himself accordingly.
“Carmelo’s had a load to carry this year, obviously scoring-load and he’s remarkable in that,” Jackson said. “He showed in the last Olympics that coming off the bench and playing a role as a bench player on a magnificent team that won a gold medal that he can play a role if he has to play a role.
“I think he’s a basketball player and that’s what players want to be able to do. They want to be able to cut, to pass, to be in different spots on the floor to attack or to play. I think that Carmelo will be just fine. I see no problem in it.”
There have been reports that Anthony will leave this summer, which, if true, would give the Knicks huge cap space going forward.
Assuming Anthony does stay, however, Jackson understands that the Knicks must target free agents in 2015 — when Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge become available.
“There’s no doubt that projecting ahead this year’s free agent crew — obviously, we’re fortunate, but we’re not particularly in the running; not a great crop coming this particular year,” Jackson said.
“But next year does have a group of guys together. Steve [Mills] and I are going to work to manage the roster, our financials, so we can have an impact in that area. I think we know we need another solid contributor — someone who can score to help Carmelo along, and who can contribute to the winning experience. So we’re looking forward to it. But we’re not losing sight of the fact that we’re in a game-to-game basis in this business. And we want to provide a team that’s talented, a team people want to come to watch, and a team that’s truly competitive.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.