NBA: Anthony opts out of Knicks contract, to become free agent

Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:10pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Carmelo Anthony officially opted out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks on Monday and will test free agency this offseason, ESPN reported.

The high-scoring forward's agent confirmed Anthony's widely expected decision to forego the $23.5 million he would have made for the final year of his contract with the Knicks in order to explore his options.

"Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city and he loves the fans," agent Leon Rose told ESPN. "At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."

The move by Anthony, who averaged 27.4 points and a career-high 8.1 rebounds for the Knicks last season, does not guarantee his exit from New York, as team president Phil Jackson could offer him more than anyone else to keep him on the club.

The Knicks could offer the former NBA scoring champion a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years. A maximum deal signed with a new team would bring him $96 million over four years, under National Basketball Association rules.

But the pursuit of an NBA championship could motivate Anthony to leave the Knicks, who missed the playoffs last season after posting a 37-45 record and need a retooling by Jackson and first-year coach Derek Fisher.

Teams that have been mentioned as possible suitors for Anthony include the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.

Anthony, 30, said last October, at the start of his fourth season in New York after coming over in a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets, that he was likely to test the free-agent market.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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