After weeks of deliberation, it appears Carmelo Anthony has bought into Phil Jackson’s game plan.
The Daily News reports Wednesday afternoon that Anthony will return to New York “barring a last minute change of heart.”
The 30-year-old forward reportedly has a five-year, $129 million deal on the table. Since the Knicks retain his “Bird rights” they could offer him more money than any other suitor. He will reportedly make his announcement on Thursday, the first day free agents can sign.
Anthony opted out of the final year of his contract last month and spent the first week of July on a tour of various landing spots. He met with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers about signing with each team. The Lakers and Bulls seemed to hold the most appeal to Anthony, but in the end he has apparently decided to stay with New York.
Jackson, the Knicks’ new president, also got a chance to pitch Anthony on his vision for the club going forward.
The Knicks are in salary cap hell, largely due to the contract of Amar’e Stoudemire, who is due $23.4 million next season. The team also owes Andrea Bargnani $12 million in 2014-15.
With the Knicks’ team salary currently at just over $59 million, the signing of Anthony would put them at $84.8 million for next season. The salary cap is $63.2 million, with the luxury tax kicking in at $77 million.
The Knicks wouldn’t be able to make any more meaningful moves this offseason unless they could unload Stoudemire or Bargnani.
Jackson has reportedly been shopping both players, including Stoudemire to the Sixers, but reportedly would beed to include Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. to sweeten the deal.
Anthony averaged 27.4 points and career-high 8.1 rebounds per game last season as the Knicks stumbled to a 37-45 record. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and head coach Mike Woodson was fired. Jackson was brought on and the team hired Derek Fisher as head coach.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.