Carmelo Anthony said on Thursday he would like to stick around with the New York Knicks this summer, but first he would need some guarantee that team president Phil Jackson can build a championship team around him.
"I want to come back. But I also want to win," Anthony said after his exit interview at the team's practice facility. "You know, me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course , then I'm willing to stay here and I'm willing to ride or die for New York.
The Knicks can offer Anthony a five-year contract worth close to $130 million. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can get is $96,000,000 over four years.
"You know, I've never once said I wanted to leave. I always said that I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to see what's out there."
Anthony plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and test free agency this summer. He explained that he wouldn't make his decision based on money.
"At this point in my career, it's about winning," he said. "Nothing else even matters."
Anthony said that the team failed to meet his expectations this season. They finished 37-45 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, missing out on the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. It is the first time in his career that he will not be going to the postseason.
Anthony is coming off one of the best seasons in his career. The All-Star forward finished second in the league in scoring at 27.4 points and also averaged a career-high 8.1 rebounds.
Before finishing his session with reporters on Thursday, Anthony offered support for coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks' struggles this season have resulted in widespread speculation about Woodson's job status.
"If he needs my recommendation, whether it's here or anywhere else, I'll back him," said Anthony, who appeared to grow emotional when talking about Woodson. "I have nothing bad to say about Mike Woodson. I support him.
"For me as a player, I had some of my best years under Mike Woodson. So I would never have anything bad to say about Mike Woodson."